Senator Carl Levin wants to scrap the government's Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standard. Auto manufacturers must meet these fuel economy standards for their fleets, or face penalties from the government.
The Obama Administration recently updated the standards. By 2020, automakers will have to reach an average 35.5 mpg for their combined car and truck fleet.
In a speech at an electric vehicle conference in Detroit, Senator Levin said,
"CAFE forces auto manufacturers to focus on incremental improvements rather than dramatic leaps forward. CAFE is a row boat, when what we need is a high-tech whitewater raft, something to carry us with confidence toward our ultimate goal – affordable alternatives to the internal-combustion engine."
Michigan Radio's Tracy Samilton reported that Levin "characterized his remarks as 'thinking out loud,'" and that he realizes his words will be controversial.
CAFE standards were put in place in 1975 after the Arab oil embargo.