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Weight-Based Fuel Standards

When the first fuel-efficient small cars appeared on the roads, people talked about how much safer driving would be if everybody drove them.

But sport utility vehicles, light-weight pickups, and minivans are now extremely popular, and Detroit loses money making small cars. So the Bush administration is using similar logic to drive the idea that if everybody drove larger cars, and/or smaller SUVs, auto safety would be enhanced all around.

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The administration, arguing that size disparity among vehicles is a safety issue, is considering changing fuel-economy standards so they are based on the total weight of a vehicle. Currently, standards are based on the type of vehicle - cars or light trucks (which include SUVs and minivans).

Such a shift could mean automakers would simply lose an incentive to make smaller, more fuel-efficient cars. That's the wrong way to go.

The technology already exists to make engines much more fuel efficient. The administration needs to create regulations that continue to push increased fuel economy and that also don't compromise safety.