01 January, 2010


The modern period starts with the oil embargoes and the gasoline shortages during the 1970s which created long lines at gas stations. To avoid waiting, entrepreneurs formed a new business. Instead of you waiting in line to refuel your car, they would do it for you for a fee. After waiting in line, only 8 gal could be bought. The long lines focused the public’s attention on energy. Congress responded to the gasoline shortages of the 1970s by passing the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) legislation. By the 1980s, concern over fuel availability had faded. Gasoline was plentiful at a low price. Car buyers demanded more performance without regard to miles per gallon (mpg). Interest in CAFE waned. Legislatively driven mpg and market-driven mpg were not in sync. From today’s viewpoint, the decline in interest can be assessed as a failure on the part of the federal government. However, Congress responds to the voters who wanted bigger cars; so the failure to increase mpg by means of CAFE can be traced back to you, the voter. Sports utility vehicles (SUVs) contribute to the gas crisis. CAFE specifies Minimum mileage for different classes of vehicles. One loophole in CAFE was the definition of cars and trucks. Large SUVs do not need to conform to passenger car CAFE, which was 27.5 mpg in 2007. SUVs are rated as trucks (by the federal government) and meet only the CAFE required of trucks.


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