Nov. 16, 2017
Thanksgiving Road Travel to Cost Consumers More if Trump and Ford Have Their Way
Clean Car Standards Are in Jeopardy
As record numbers of Americans prepare to hit the road to celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday, their gas bills will be lower than in previous years, thanks in part to fuel economy and greenhouse gas emissions standards, also known as clean car standards.
Vehicles are going farther on a gallon of gas, which is good news for the 45.5 million Americans expected by AAA to make the drive for a turkey dinner with friends and family this holiday. Those travelers will spend roughly $462 million on gas this year, according to Public Citizen calculations.* If the average vehicle met the 2025 standard instead of the current standard, Americans would save more than $143 million this holiday.
But those savings are under threat. Ford and other automakers have been working with the Trump administration to roll back the popular standards. Their anti-regulation push began just two days after the 2016 election, when the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers – a trade association representing Ford and 11 other automakers – requested relief from the standards in a letter to President-elect Donald Trump. Since then, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt has met repeatedly with auto executives, and in August, he announced plans to reopen the standards’ midterm review, which opens the door for the standards to be weakened or undone.
“Thanksgiving should be a time to celebrate family,” said Robert Weissman, president of Public Citizen. “The last thing people need to worry about is that their travel will take a larger bite out of their wallets. Thanksgiving is for gobbling turkeys, not gas money.”
The clean car rules, which were finalized in 2012 and set mile-per-gallon goals for automakers to meet by model year 2025, have curbed climate-causing pollution and improved health. Public Citizen and environmental groups to launched a campaign last month to persuade Ford and other automakers to halt its efforts to roll back the rules.
Public Citizen experts are available for television, radio and print interviews ahead of the holiday rush and can tell you how the standards are saving consumers money and cleaning up our air; and how the current push to gobble Americans’ savings at the pump betrays Ford’s promise to the public.
To calculate the number of vehicles on the roads this Thanksgiving, we used data from AAA’s 2017 Thanksgiving Travel Forecast, which predicts the number of Americans traveling, and divided that by the average vehicle occupancy for recreational trips (2.2) as estimated by the 2009 National Household Transportation Survey. According to the America on The Go report from the National Household Travel Survey, the average Thanksgiving trip is 214 miles. Taking the total number of vehicles multiplied by the average mileage provided us with an estimate for the total number of miles that would be driven.
To calculate gasoline consumption, we took the total miles to be traveled and divided that by the average miles per gallon (mpg): 24.8 mpg for current average fuel efficiency (latest available data from EPA’s Light-Duty Automotive Technology, Carbon Dioxide Emissions, and Fuel Economy Trends: 1975 through 2016 report which is for model year 2015) and 36 mpg by 2025 with the clean car standards (as estimated in EPA’s technical analysis). These serve as our two cases for comparison.
We took gasoline consumption for the two cases and multiplied that by the per gallon gas cost estimate for the week of Nov. 15 provided by the Energy Information Administration. These two figures were subtracted to calculate cost savings.