We Americans live on our "wheels." We love our cars, need them to go to work, for business, errands, travel and pleasure. And much of our American economy is based on our auto industry and its related businesses.
So who wouldn't love to have our cars get better gasoline mileage - and at the same time reduce obnoxious emissions from our engines?
That's what President Barack Obama is hoping for in his sweeping new demands on car manufacturers - even as they already are staggering under current economic problems. Ultimately, of course, the costs will be borne by millions of American motorists.
What will be the costs?
President Obama wants new cars to get 35.5 miles per gallon of gasoline by 2016. To reach that standard, it is guesstimated that the cost would be about $1,300 per car!
Mileage standards already demanded by law are expected to add $600 to the cost of a car. And the new standards the president calls for are guesstimated to add $700 more. With car prices already high, what will be the economic effect on our nation, not just motorists, of adding $1,300 to a car price tag as General Motors and Chrysler are about to go broke and Ford is in trouble, too?
Well, the president's proposal is claimed to have a "sweetener" of hoped-for "savings." But that's guesswork. "If" 60-month car loans are considered and "if" gasoline prices follow government guesstimates, proponents of the new standards claim the added cost would be "recovered." Do you want to bet on that?
The U.S. Transportation Department reported last year that requiring the auto industry to attain a 31.6 miles per gallon standard by 2015 would cost nearly $47 billion. With the new standard set at 35.5 miles per gallon by 2016, there obviously would be added costs. How much? No one really knows. But what is known is that the American people, in one way or another, will have to pay the large added costs.
It is claimed that the suggested benefits would outweigh the costs. But what will the effect be on an economy that is already in serious recession, when car manufacturers are in trouble, when auto workers are being laid off and when most Americans are having to watch their dollars more closely.
The new car standards obviously will have major effects on us all.