Law & Order


The U.S. House of Representatives approved SEMA-supported legislation to increase the nation’s fuel-economy standards. If signed into law, the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) Standards for passenger cars and light trucks would rise by 40% to an industry average of 35 miles per gallon by 2020. SEMA worked with the automakers and other industry associations as part of the CAFE Coalition to help negotiate a compromise approach that would allow carmakers to reach a fair and attainable standard.

The measure also creates a new national consumer information program regarding the fuel efficiency of replacement tires. Although SEMA has been reluctant to focus consumer attention on tire fuel efficiency since it may distract motorists from more important safety issues, such as tire pressure, performance and handling, the proposed program is less onerous than other legislative proposals that were considered to mandate tire testing and labeling.

The accord is part of a larger energy bill (HR 6) which is now before the Senate. Senators support the CAFE agreement but are working to address several unrelated but contentious issues: a tax provision and a requirement that electric utilities generate a certain portion of their power using renewable fuels. Final action is expected in December. The following are key auto-related elements:

Fuel-Economy Targets

  • Preserves separate CAFE standards for passenger cars and light trucks
  • Allows standards to be set at levels that will achieve 35 mpg by 2020 for the combined fleet of passenger cars and light trucks
  • Establishes new fuel-economy regulatory programs for “work trucks” and for commercial medium- and heavy-duty trucks
  • Confirms that new-car and light-truck standards take effect in model year 2011

Consumer Awareness

  • Creates a new consumer information program about fuel economy, including:
         - New-vehicle labels about fuel economy and alternative fuels
         - New-vehicle rating system regarding fuel economy and greenhouse gases
         - Owners’ manual information for vehicles capable of running on alternative fuels

Tire Efficiency

  • Creates a new consumer information program regarding the fuel efficiency of replacement tires. The provision mirrors a California law and includes a SEMA-drafted exemption for limited production tires (15,000 or less annually) and other specialized tires. 

For additional information, contact Stuart Gosswein at or 202/783-6007, ext. 30.