Auto dealers warn fuel efficiency proposal will price out millions of buyers

American auto dealers are pushing back on proposed fuel economy rules that, they claim, would price out millions of buyers from the new-car market, potentially jeopardizing the environmental benefits of the program and the resurgent auto industry itself.

Throughout the Obama administration’s campaign to jack up fuel efficiency, officials claimed that for consumers, the upgrades would pay for themselves. Sure, buyers would pay more for a new vehicle off the lot, but they’d make up that cost in fuel savings in just a few years.

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But the changes from two sets of fuel efficiency standards could add $3,000 to the price of a new car by 2025. And the National Automobile Dealers Association argues that if buyers can’t qualify for a loan up front, the rest is fantasy. Cash-strapped buyers instead will go for gas-guzzling used cars or put off buying another car altogether, leaving the fuel-efficient marvels parked in the lots of auto dealers across the country.

“Where’s the environmental savings … if you can’t get the older cars off of the road?” NADA spokesman Bailey Wood said.

The NADA estimates that by 2025, 6.8 million drivers will no longer qualify for a new-car loan if the proposed fuel efficiency standards go into effect.

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