Keeping up with rules

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Fuel efficiency and who will sell cars are two issues that will have automakers and lawmakers locking horns for years to come.

The Corporate Average Fuel Economy law has been frozen since 1984 at 27.5 mpg for cars and 20.7 for light trucks. Carmakers have begun to change their tune and the subject is open again for discussion.

Those who favor maintaining the freeze claim that raising the standards will force up auto prices, making the more fuel-efficient vehicles unaffordable to some consumers who would have to continue driving their older, more polluting cars.

An alternative-or companion piece-to a change in the fuel economy standard might include consumer incentives to encourage sales of more fuel-efficient cars.

Auto dealers were pursuing their own agenda with lawmakers last year, successfully lobbying 21 state legislatures to either pass or tighten laws restricting stores owned by carmakers, according to Automotive News, a sibling publication of Advertising Age. Meanwhile in Arizona, the carmakers are challenging a new state law in federal court that forbids them from selling vehicles, financing and insurance directly to consumers.

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