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Survey: Consumers Want Automakers to Support Cleaner Cars

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Most people drive fewer than 50 miles per day, and the range of many electric vehicles is more than 200 miles. (malajscy/Adobe Stock)
Most people drive fewer than 50 miles per day, and the range of many electric vehicles is more than 200 miles. (malajscy/Adobe Stock)
 By Andrea Sears, Public News Service - NY - Producer, Contact
November 29, 2019

ALBANY, N.Y. – A Consumer Reports survey shows a solid majority of prospective car buyers are interested in low-emission and zero-emission electric vehicles, but some car makers are supporting efforts to weaken auto emission standards.

The Trump administration wants to freeze federal vehicle emission standards and prevent states from imposing tougher emission requirements. The Clean Air Act allows California to set stricter standards and other states, including New York, to require cars to meet California's tighter rules.

But Alexandra Zissu, a member of Moms Clean Air Force who recently purchased a Toyota hydrid, points out that some major automakers are supporting the administration's weakened standards.

"I believe that Toyota meant to do better by offering this really good alternative to people who have to drive and care about the environment, and it's just shocking that they decided to side with Trump," says Zissu.

Ford, Honda, BMW and Volkswagen support California's ability to set tougher emission standards. But other automakers – including GM, Toyota and Chrysler – say they want a single national standard.

Suzanne Baker-Branstetter is manager for cars and energy policy at Consumer Reports. She notes that even those manufactures supporting weakened emission standards have been promoting the benefits of clean hybrid and electric cars.

"There's a big disconnect between what automakers are saying to consumers about their commitments to environmental sustainability and to reducing emissions, and then their actions," says Baker-Branstetter.

She says the technology to improve emissions from new vehicles already exists but some carmakers are choosing not to install it.

Zissu adds that California's ability to set tougher standards and the right of other states to adopt those standards are part of the Clean Air Act.

"The Clean Air Act is a bipartisan piece of legislation that's protecting everybody," says Zissu. “It's clean air for all – it's clean air for children, it's clean air for everything that breathes on the earth. We all need this."

New York has joined with eleven other Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states in forming the Transportation Climate Initiative to reduce vehicle greenhouse-gas emissions.

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