Pew Charitable Trusts are running a Denver radio ad exhorting people to “stand up to the auto companies” and demand the passage of fuel economy standards mandating fleet averages of 35 miles per gallon. The ad accuses auto companies of blocking attempts to produce more fuel efficient cars. Listeners are told that higher fuel economy requirements will reduce dependence on foreign oil and save the average family hundreds of dollars a year.
Unless, of course, that average family has more than 1.8 children and they must haul squads of hulking adolescents, their gear, and the piles of rations required to keep them alive to and from the sports events. Sports events, it should be noted, that may keep health care costs down by reducing childhood and adolescent obesity. And then there’s the possibility that people value safety, too, and don't particularly like their odds when a lightweight, but fuel efficient, car bashes into something else at 60 miles per hour.
Pew advertises itself as a non-profit organization serving the public. The ad suggests that it believes the public is served by making the false claims about auto company motives and repeating the lie that auto companies are uninterested in fuel economy. Every car represents painful tradeoffs between such things as fuel economy, comfort, size, handling, cost, power, style, maintenance cost, and durability. Auto companies are in business to sell cars and make profits for their shareholders. The quest for profits ensures that they will vigorously pursue better fuel economy as long as their customers want and are willing to pay for it.
Judging from the ad, Pew officials have a hard time understanding this. They appear to equate serving the public with telling it what to drive.
For more of the drivel that passes for public service at Pew, see its Campaign for Fuel Efficiency web page at http://www.pewtrusts.org/our_work.aspx?category=478.