78 percent of Americans want 40 mpg legislation
A bipartisan 78 percent of Americans want the U.S. government to impose a 40 mile per gallon fuel-efficiency standard for vehicles sold in the United States, according to a new Opinion Research Corporation (ORC) national opinion survey. The report indicates nine out of 10 Americans expect gas prices to go up "in the near future," with nearly half (46 percent) "definitely" expecting a resumption of higher fuel prices.
70 percent of Americans are not turning their back on fuel-efficiency concerns and say that they are factoring "expected future gasoline price increases into consideration in thinking about buying a new vehicle."
The study found temporarily lower gasoline prices are not sending large numbers of Americans rushing back to gas-guzzling SUV and trucks. In fact, nearly half (45 percent) of Americans are now more likely to buy a "hybrid or other fuel-efficient vehicle" than they were six months ago, compared
to 30 percent who are unchanged in their plans and fewer than one in four (24 percent) who are less likely to make such a vehicle purchase.
Other key results of the Opinion Research Corporation survey conducted for the Civil Society Institute include the following:
- Most Americans think Detroit is to blame for its current woes. Respondents were asked: "Do you agree or disagree that U.S. automakers have generally been blind to U.S. consumer needs and tastes by focusing so heavily on fuel-inefficient SUVs and trucks while European and Japanese automakers have focused their efforts on vehicle design and/or improved fuel efficiency?" More than three out of four (76 percent) agreed with the statement, compared to just 22 percent who disagreed.
- Nearly all Americans want President Bush to pressure U.S. automakers to focus more on the latest in fuel-efficiency technology. White House pressure for Detroit to take up such innovations reducing "energy consumption and related global-warming pollution" is backed by 85 percent of Americans, including 58 percent who would strongly support such pressure by President Bush. Political support for White House action on this front is strongly bipartisan: Republicans (82 percent); Independents (81 percent); and Democrats (91 percent).
- Most Americans think "President Bush and Congress could help U.S. automakers be more competitive by increasing the federal fuel-efficiency standard to 40 miles per gallon". Such a move is supported by 78 percent of Americans, including 45 percent who back it strongly. Support for a 40 mpg fuel-efficiency standard cuts across party lines: Republicans (70 percent); Independents (78 percent); and Democrats (84 percent).
- Most Americans agree that "President Bush and Congress should provide incentives-such as helping to lower health care costs for autoworkers-in exchange for increased investments by Detroit car makers in fuel-efficient technologies to reduce energy consumption and related global-warming pollution." Two thirds of Americans support this step, compared to less than a third (31 percent) opposing. Strong majorities of Republicans (60 percent), Independents (60 percent) and Democrats (75 percent) would back such an inducement.
- A majority of Americans see Japanese automakers ahead of U.S. car manufacturers. Respondents were asked: "Would you say that U.S. or Japanese automakers are in the lead when it comes to hybrid technology and other more highly fuel-efficient technologies to reduce energy consumption and related global-warming pollution?" Half said Japan was in the lead, compared to only 6 percent who put the U.S. in the pole position. Slightly more than a third (36 percent) see the U.S. and Japan as being roughly neck and neck. Men were more likely than woman to see Japan ahead of the U.S. by a margin of 57 percent to 44 percent, respectively.
- Almost all Americans want Detroit to start selling here at home the highly fuel-efficient vehicles that they make or sell overseas - but not in the U.S. The survey notes that "American automakers produce or sell dozens of car models that achieve over 35 miles per gallon but are not made available to consumers here in the United States. Do you think Detroit carmakers should be encouraged to make available here at home the more fuel-efficient cars they are currently only selling abroad?" An overwhelming 90 percent of respondents said "yes," including 60 percent who said "definitely yes." Almost no difference was seen on this question across party lines: Republicans (88 percent); Independents (86 percent); and Democrats (93 percent).
- Most Americans would support federal gasoline taxes devoted to renewable energy/clean tech R&D. Respondents were asked: Do you think President Bush and the Congress should dedicate a portion of existing or increased gasoline taxes for investment in research and development of renewable energy and related clean technologies?" Nearly three out of four (74 percent) said yes, compared to just 24 percent who said no. Support was little changed on the basis of party affiliation, with Republicans (70 percent), Independents (73 percent) and Democrats (78 percent) in agreement on such a tax policy.