General Motors Says New Fuel Requirements Will Add $6,000 To Price Of Cars

Bob Lutz, GM’s vice president and product chief, told reporters this week that new federal guidelines that require 35mpg fuel efficiency by 2020 (yes, more than a decade from now) are so stringent that it will end up costing an average of $6,000 more per vehicle. “That cost will have to be passed on to consumers,” he then threatened. We can’t help but feel sorry for GM. After all, this whole “better fuel efficiency” topic was only brought up, what, like two or three months ago? And GM only has twelve years to find cost-effective (we’d say “innovative” but don’t want to put too much pressure on such a backwards, fearful company) ways to lighten cars and improve engines.

“We probably have to take a lot of weight out of the vehicles. We will have to use some premium materials like more aluminum, more magnesium,” Lutz said. “Which gets you the weight savings but drives the cost up.”

“GM says new fuel requirements to add $6,000 per car” [Reuters]
(Photo: Getty)


Edit Your Comment

  1. Rando says:

    Horse shit. That is an excuse to raise prices.

  2. unklegwar says:

    BTW, Car prices will probably increase by that much in 12 years ANYWAY.

    Too bad GM, if you can’t compete, you’ll die. I’m sure some other company will be able to do it cheaper. I can already buy a Honda that gets real close.

  3. Geekybiker says:

    They whined when they were told they had to add airbags too, yet somehow they managed to do it. What it really means is they will have to sell less SUV’s which are their bread and butter.

  4. youbastid says:

    Boohoo for GM. My Corrolla is from 2003, gets 40mpg highway, and cost $15,000.

    Anyone currently getting 8mpg in their Suburban would save much more than $6,000 over the life of their car in gas.

  5. Anitra says:

    Or you know, they could make smaller cars with the same capabilities.

  6. warf0x0r says:

    They could do a lot of things, imho they don’t even care about American consumers anymore they’re on to China and India because 2Bil > 350 Mil.

  7. @AnitraSmith: But who would buy them? Certainly not the environmentalists who drive around 1-2 kids in a Suburban. Because they don’t make four door cars.

  8. ARP says:

    Didn’t the car companies cry wolf in nearly the same way when we switched from leaded to unleaded gas?

    They had years to invest in the appropriate R&D to improve gas mileage. Instead, they cranked out as many giant SUV’s as they could and tried to figure out how to fit more cupholders in the same amount of space.

    I have zero sympathy for them and think this is an idle threat. Go ahead, raise the prices. We’ll just buy Toyota, Honda, or another brand that actually thought ahead.

  9. ekthesy says:


    That’s really good. My $17K ’02 Protege can still pull 34mpg highway, which I am still really happy with.

    How many miles do you have on it?

  10. ShortBus says:

    @randotheking: It doesn’t work that way. GM is already charging customer as much as they think they can get away with. They don’t need excuses. In fact, they’d charge even more if they thought people wouldn’t just buy a Ford, Honda, etc instead.

    The price on a good or service has nothing to do with the actual cost of production, and everything to do with what competitors are charging. GM cars will only start costing $6k more if someone, somewhere out there in the entire industry can’t figure out how to make it cheaper within the next 10 years. It’s a pretty safe bet someone will come up with a workable idea.

  11. JasonKeiderling says:

    Considering what fuel prices are likely to be in 2020, I think a car that actually gets 35 mpg will be worth an extra $6,000.

  12. ShortBus says:

    @unklegwar: You must be a bit young. The federal government doesn’t let auto manufacturers die.

  13. My 1989 Nissan Stanza got about 35 mpg for being a 4 door and driven by a kid whose foot was composed of something with the mass of a white dwarf star.

  14. LionelEHutz says:

    GM is so full of shit. I can’t wait to tell them to take a hike when they ask for a government handout. Bastards.

  15. ShortBus says:

    @ARP: As someone said from the movie “Who Killed the Electric Car?”, auto companies would make a car that ran on pig shit if they thought people would buy it.

    You can’t blame them for producing SUVs. They wouldn’t make them if people didn’t buy them. And you don’t stay in business very long unless you make cars people want.

  16. @ShortBus: If electric cars were profitable, then car companies would make them, and gas/oil companies would start making batteries. But they don’t. Why don’t people blame Energizer or Duracell for keeping battery prices so high?

  17. ClayS says:


    No excuse is needed to raise prices. Prices are determined by the car buying market. If people want to buy minicars, the auto manufacturers will produce them. If people want trucks and SUV’s, the same applies.

  18. TechnoDestructo says:


    I’d say “they need more than an excuse” but the weak dollar means a lot of other companies will have to raise theirs.

  19. youbastid says:

    @ekthesy: I think somewhere between 45 and 50k miles. Besides oil, brakes and tires, only maintenance I’ve needed is replace the serpentine belt @ $150.

    Not to mention more of my Toyota was built in the good ol’ US of A than the average “American” car. GM can suck it.

  20. thatgirlinnewyork says:

    “We can’t help but feel sorry for GM. After all, this whole “better fuel efficiency” was only brought up, what, like two or three months ago?” You’re kidding, right? CA and other states have been trying to override the woefully lame federal standards for years. Why feel sorry for companies who not only have had the feds help them bail out for years, but have heaped years of ugly, low-function merch upon us??

  21. TechnoDestructo says:

    @ARP: The big three have cried wolf at EVERY major change in safety, environmental, or fuel economy standards. They’ve cried and cried about how it was going to put them out of business and how IT CAN’T BE DONE!

    While Honda goes quiet for a while and then is all like “hey guys, we did it, what do you think?”

    That’s the pattern since the 1970s.

  22. coaster.n3rd says:


    Uh-huh.. do some research. GM invented the airbag.

  23. TechnoDestructo says:


    It cost you 150 to replace a serpentine belt? Shouldn’t that take like 5 minutes and a 10 dollar breaker bar? I know it did on my T-bird.

    Or does stuff actually have to come off of your car to do that?

  24. fergthecat says:

    Wait, isn’t this the same company that runs all of those “We’re building super-efficient cars for the future” TV ads?

  25. picardia says:

    At the rate of inflation we’re about to be looking at, 12 years from now, $6,000 will be the price of a six-pack of beer.

  26. coaster.n3rd says:


    My Cobalt is from 2006 and gets an average 41.4mpg.

  27. mike1731 says:

    Oh well, GM, we’ll miss you!

  28. cerbie says:

    @Geekybiker: that’s what I was thinking, too. Maybe they’ll have to go figure out how to make a good station wagon fleet for the modern age.

    Then, when I’m stuck behind a morning school caravan, I might actually be able to see what color the light is!

  29. coaster.n3rd says:


    Why would they ask for a handout?

  30. Me - now with more humidity says:

    Techno: It’s not that easy on most Japanese cars. My Subaru was more than that. Best way to do it is while you’re changing a water pump or something that requires you to take the front end of the engine apart.

  31. NightSteel says:

    @ClayS: ‘No excuse is needed to raise prices. Prices are determined by the car buying market. If people want to buy minicars, the auto manufacturers will produce them. If people want trucks and SUV’s, the same applies.’

    What about the fact that the organizations making and selling those huge vehicles are *also* the ones making people want to buy them? American car companies constantly advertise their trucks and SUVs. Dealers always push the most expensive vehicles with the biggest markups. I’d be willing to bet that if we saw a serious shift in advertising and sales focus, a shift in car sales would follow.

    Prices are determined by the market, but the market is determined in at least a significant part by advertising and sales practices.

  32. ShortBus says:

    @youbastid: *Assembled* in the USA isn’t the same things as *made* in the USA. Domestic auto makers contribute significantly more to the US economy than foreign makers via the trickle-down effect–even if your Toyota is bolted together in Kentucky.

  33. youbastid says:

    @ShortBus: “They only made it because people want it!” is the rallying cry of the fast food industry too. And it’s true, but only to a certain effect. The only reason people WANT SUVs in the first place is because of the image of SUVs. Auto manufacturers have poured so much of their ad dollars into their SUVs, tapping into the American belief that bigger is ALWAYS better. The fast food companies have done the same. People didn’t ask for these things, but companies know that when you show someone two pictures of two products, one bigger than the other, but both costing the same, they will always go with the bigger one. So what do you do? Make everything bigger than your competitor.

  34. youbastid says:

    @TechnoDestructo: It should cost $10, but I had no idea what things cost and I let the dealer do it. What can I say, I was younger.

    @ShortBus: Are you seriously trying to tell me that the trickle-down effect works? Did you time-travel here from 1988?

  35. coaster.n3rd says:

    I’m looking at some of these comments and cannot believe the stupidity behind some of them…

    You’re whining more than Bob Lutz.

    Remember it was you the consumer who demanded the SUVs be made not GM or Ford or Toyota or anyone. Can anyone here tell me what auto companies were involved in the cafe lawsuit? I bet none of you high and mighty types will have the answer. You will justs it in your chairs and cry foul at any american auto maker. Well guess what. Toyota was at the front lines during that law suit.

    The ignorance is astounding. You’re all sheep and should be treated as such. When you’re ready to have a competent discussion. I’ll be here.

  36. NightSteel says:

    How do trickle-down economics work while CEOs are getting multimillion dollar bonuses and golden parachutes? Seriously, I prefer a car assembled in the USA, employing hundreds or thousands of Americans in factories, to a car assembled in Mexico, where American workers see almost none of the money from its manufacture or sale, relatively.

  37. thatgirlinnewyork says:

    @coaster.n3rd: Because they can (lobbyists), and because they can claim to (further) economically devastate parts of the country when they have to close factories. THEY should be responsible for the jobs retraining when they do so, but that’s yet another responsibility they leave for the states in question/feds.

  38. NightSteel says:

    See my previous comment re: the market being determined by advertising.

    Think it’s not true? Read some articles about the amount of money drug companies spend in advertising vs. the amount they spend in R&D. I’d like to see the breakdowns of figures like that for the car companies.

  39. bravo369 says:

    I feel for GM. I also fear that these new regulations and standards are going to wussify cars like the corvette, mustang and other sports cars. Those are supposed to fast and powerful. What they do with gas is secondary and most people don’t care about it. Hopefully those regulations allow loopholes for limited number of the prized gas guzzler cars to continue to be produce…unless they can actually make them gas efficient

  40. Sucko-T says:

    Toyota makes plenty of suvs too people

    Rav 4
    4 Runner
    FJ Cruiser
    Land Cruiser

  41. youbastid says:

    @coaster.n3rd: Toyota was thrown in there because they sued every major car maker. They considered every car to be a contributor to pollution, therefore every auto manufacturer had to be considered.

  42. youbastid says:

    @strum40: I didn’t mean to insinuate that since my Toyota gets 40mpg, then all Toyotas are great. I was using my car as an example that cars that get high gas mileage don’t have to be expensive as GM insists they do.

  43. JiminyChristmas says:

    Another way to look at it would be: Assuming there’s much left, what will a gallon of gas cost in 2020? If it’s $12/gallon, an extra $6,000 invested in fuel efficiency (amortized over the life of the car, mind you) would be a bargain.

    Of course, it’s also interesting to examine the assumptions behind Bob Lutz’s statement. It’s going to be expensive for GM to meet the new standards because, presumably, they will still be including gas-guzzling monster trucks like the Hummer H2, GMC Denali, and Cadillac Escalade in their fleet averages. Well yeah, if you don’t want the Escalade dragging down your numbers you would have to make it out of titanium, carbon fiber, hugs, and rainbows. As an alternative, I would suggest that GM stop making 3+ ton passenger vehicles.

  44. JustAGuy2 says:

    CAFE rules are just dumb. They don’t take into account the fact that it’s total gas consumption that matters, not consumption per mile. A 10mpg Hummer driven 8k miles/year is much less of a problem than a 40mpg Prius driven 50k miles/year.

    If we want to really cut gas consumption, we need to raise gas taxes. That will create consumer demand for higher fuel economy vehicles, and reduce the # of miles driven. Instead of CAFE standards for 2020, let’s raise the federal gas tax $0.50/gal per year every year through 2020. I guarantee, the average economy of cars sold in the US will be way above 35mpg by then.

  45. JiminyChristmas says:

    @cerbie: Bring back the Country Squire station wagon. Yeah, baby.

  46. 5ekrit says:

    Bob Lutz is smokin’ crack! Honda does it and so does Toyota. I just don’t get it. GM remains stupid and nonsensical. Nonsensical in what Bob said and stupid that they believe their own bullshiite.

    GM you are no closer to reviving your brand than Woolworth’s.

  47. fergthecat says:

    @JiminyChristmas: Especially with fake wood on the sides.

  48. Geekybiker says:

    @coaster.n3rd: Who cares who invented. They whined when they were mandated by law in all cars. “They’ll cost too much” they said. The tech was around for years and years before then. It wasn’t a matter of being able to do it. It was an issue of cost. Same here.

  49. disavow says:

    @bravo369: Aren’t the new fuel standards on a fleet-wide basis? Such that muscle cars and beasts would still be allowed, as long as they’re offset by adequate high-efficiency models. I could be wrong.

  50. ShortBus says:

    @NightSteel, et al:

    I happen to know a bit about the trickle down affects of the auto makers, yes. As I type this, I’m looking out a 16th floor window overlooking downtown Detroit.

    The Big 3 indirectly employ a vast, vast number of people in the US–esp. in the Midwest. I myself am a computer person. I used to do a lot of work for commerical insurance companies. These insurance companies’ largest clients were industrial engineers, architects, and the like. These professionals biggest clients were suppliers to the Big 3 (the people who made the bolts, car seats, etc that are sold to GM, Ford, and Chrysler). There is a massive amount of trickle down in the auto industry. And there is considerably more trickle down from the domestic manufacturers than the oversees ones.

    I don’t like a lot of things about domestic auto manufacturers, esp. the unions. But they are much more important to the US economy than most people–certainly those outside of the Midwest–really understand. There are valid reasons to buy foreign, but the fact that some foreign cars are assembled in the US isn’t one of them; it’s simply a red herring.

  51. varco says:

    @warf0x0r: But the cars they’re going to sell in China and India are going to be smaller (and maybe more efficient) than the ones they sell here.

  52. snoop-blog says:

    as long as gas stays around $3 per gallon, i don’t give a shit what i’m driving. i’ll keep my 3 suv’s i have parked out in front of my house.

  53. tz says:

    The problem is you can’t repeal laws of physics.

    It can’t be built like a tank for safety, get 100 MPG, go from 0 to 60 before you get to your destination, and cost the same as today. Oh, and I remember how reliable and repairable the cars of the late ’70s were with their spaghetti of vacuum hoses covering the engine. And then if there’s a moderate crash, the hybrids become instant hazmat sites, but most other lightweights are totaled, so expect to pay more for insurance too.

    Most of the posters were comparing their econo-box with a SUV.

    For the same price you will get a very different car. If you want the better car it will cost $6000 more.

    Or they will just build them in China, so don’t complain when the last manufacturing job leaves. And assuming you can afford cars when we all work at Taco Bell.

  54. rjhiggins says:

    @thatgirlinnewyork: It’s called sarcasm…

  55. CumaeanSibyl says:

    @GitEmSteveDave: I think that’s what ShortBus was saying — that nobody “killed” the electric car because nobody really wanted an electric car that badly.

    As for me, my ’98 Ford Escort gets 41 hwy/28 city. If Ford could make cars like that ten years ago, and have them still maintain their efficiency, GM needs to stop complaining.

  56. coaster.n3rd says:


    No one sued the Automakers, the Automakers sued the government and argued against CAFE standards. Toyota included.

    Again, the lack of any kind of education about this particular topic astounds me. People are so quick to talk, yet the crap that comes out of their mouths are quite illogical.

  57. coaster.n3rd says:

    @Geekybiker: GM never argued against the mandate. They were also the first company to offer airbags standard in every model BEFORE the government mandate.

    Again… educate yourself on the topic before spouting off at the mouth.

  58. coaster.n3rd says:


    GM spent about 1.6 Billion in R&D in 2007 and 921.3 million in advertising for the same year.


  59. Coder4Life says:

    Is GM not advertising for cars that get amazing gas mileage, with little kids in the commerical… So how many of their vehicles should technically require that much $$$ added to make that mpg go up.

    Also it will probably cost $6k extra per vehicle, that probably includes the giant bonus they get from the oil companies for making vehicles with crappy gas mileage…

  60. snoop-blog says:

    yeah bitches! bow down to the web master that is coaster nerd, and don’t even touch that keyboard unless its to leave this room to go educate yo-self.

  61. smith186 says:

    @ShortBus: @ShortBus: I’ll second that. I grew up in the same area and spent a while as an IT guy working for a fairly small company that made specialized tools that were used by other companies that manufactured auto parts for the big 3. My father worked on the line at GM. His father was a trucker, who transported mostly auto parts and materials. My mother was an accountant who worked at different shops that supplied parts and materials for the big three. All different careers, all reliant on the auto industry.

    Sure, that’s just southeast Michigan, but other areas in the country are similar. Assembly is just a small part at the end.

  62. Freedomboy says:

    Talk to the coastline of China residents today and they might have a different idea about this glorious future with cars in it AT ALL.

    Been here 58 years, never driven a car, never will.

    Where’s my rebate? I stand in the rain and catch a bus every morning and have for decades, alone or with folks too poor to do anything else while 50 cars a minute with one person whip by and splash me.

    No cars is the only good cars. GM can kiss my ass.

  63. rmgustaf says:

    My bullshit alarm is at level 5. What a joke. They’re probably taking this seriously, as well.

  64. ClayS says:


    Free enterprise. All vehicles are advertised. Car companies compete with each other constantly. People know what they need and want.

  65. gingerCE says:

    Sometimes progress takes a little sacrifice. What’s interesting for me is are the other car companies (american of japanese or german) publicly saying anything on the increased mileage? If not, why is GM the only one complaining?

  66. snoop-blog says:

    did anyone else hear about the car in india that is only $2500. its supposed to get 40mph on the hwy.

  67. deadlizard says:

    By 2020 GM is going to be called Matsusaka Motor Co. or something like it.

  68. Christovir says:

    My view of American car manufacturers is very similar to my view towards the RIAA: learn to adapt or just go ahead and die already.

    Speaking of fuel efficiency, I would suggest this article:

  69. Ever hear the old tech industry chestnut “Fast, cheap, good…Pick Two”?

    With the car industry it goes something like this: “Powerful, efficient, safe…pick two”.

  70. CamilleR says:

    I just bought a Toyota Yaris, Toyota’s cheapest car and the second cheapest new car on the lot. It gets over 35 mpg. GM could undoubtedly make a fuel efficient car without having to up the price $6000. The problem is convincing Americans they don’t need huge cars.
    I would have loved to buy an American car (I loved my ’95 Dodge Neon that was just getting to expensive to maintain), but I went with the car that seemed to have the best mpg at the cheapest price.

  71. dapuddle says:

    If this is how out of touch the head of GM is, the future will continue to be bleak.

    Three letters. EV1

  72. youbastid says:

    @coaster.n3rd: I was referring to this lawsuit:


  73. Trai_Dep says:

    So why doesn’t GM simply give usa checks for $6000, payable to Toyota, so we’ll all get Priuses. Being that, you know, they can’t meet a rudimentary engineering challenge that’s twelve years off.

  74. howie_in_az says:

    @gingerCE: I know two of the big German manufacturers, BMW and Mercedes, are bringing their common-rail diesels to the US. The BMW 335d gets at least 40mpg highway, and Mercedes’ BlueTec (why do I want to call it BluTec? Feh on you, Sony!) engines deliver roughly the same mileage.

    The car mags that have driven the 335d all praise it; what’s not to like about ~280bhp and ~420 lb/ft of torque while delivering 40+mpg (besides a 4k rpm redline and automatic transmission)?

  75. Trai_Dep says:

    @coaster.n3rd: Tee hee. Coaster is so adorable, being completely oblivious of the role, effectiveness and results of multi-billion dollar advertising campaigns.

    Or, the “perfect” (read: sheeplike) consumer.

  76. ripple says:


    Toyotas can be cheaper because they dont have to pay mediocre union workers like $75.00/hr to do a job that a trained monkey could do like glue windshields on cars. THAT is why GM cars cost so much. If they would fire all the union employees and hire a whole new staff that actually had an incentive to do a great job for like $25/hr (you cant get fired when in a union unless you kill someone so nobody puts out any extra effort) then GM cars would be MUCH cheaper

  77. ripple says:

    Yeah I also hear that it was slightly larger than a bike , and the body is made from cellophane instead of steel

  78. covaro says:

    It’s sad they want to complain about this, when the technology has been around forever to accomplish this goal. Not to mention my wife’s 2002 Nissan SE-R SpecV (which is considered a Pocket Rocket, Rice Burner, Tuner Car, whatever), can get over 35 MPG on highway trips. GM, you are full of crap, and just trying to prop up a business model because you presented an unsustainable business model all those years ago, by promising all these retirement benefits to retirees. Those old pension plans are being paid for by the current generation to this day.

  79. GearheadGeek says:

    They don’t call him Maximum Bob for nothing. He’s a blow-hard, and lots of the statements that he makes are extreme. There are 2 issues here. 1 is that CAFE is indeed a bit brain-dead. For example, the way it’s calculated they get more benefit from raising a vehicle from 15 mpg to 20 than from 30 to 40. The other issue is that Bob Lutz likes to make threats, say it’s the work of the devil, say they’re going to have a totally new product the day after tomorrow or he’ll quit, etc.

    If Bob Lutz says it’ll cost $6000 per vehicle to have cars out by 2020 that get their fleet average highway mileage at 35 mpg, figure it’ll cost $600 per vehicle to meet that goal in 2015.

  80. chagasi says:

    The $6000 is in 2008 dollars, Even Lutz can’t see into the future. Regardless, As several have said, this is the same whining GM said when they wanted passed the clean air act, asked for seatbelts, airbags, Sulphur-reducing catalytic converters etc. etc. etc. As ‘techno’ put it best Honda has continually pushed these envelopes forward when everyone else said it couldn’t be done.
    In 1970-72 GM executives testified before congress that the proposed emissions requirements couldn’t be met, They were ‘impossible’ without a catalytic converter that could run on a car, which didn’t yet exist. The head of Honda, then said, not only is is possible, but we can do it w/o a CC… Then Honda revealed the CVCC engine, and the rest is history. Lutz should shut up and start using those engineers to do something useful.

  81. snoop-blog says:

    @ripple: ah life is overated anyhow.

  82. inspiron says:


    Thats a great way to think about it! Best thing I read all day!

    The new fuel economy standards are a load of shit, I don’t want some asshole in washington dictating that I must drive a small fuel efficent car, let the economy do its work and gas will become more expensive then I will CHOSE to drive a more efficent car.

    Does anyone else see the irony that the most inefficient and wasteful organization in the world (the goverment) is forcing us to be more efficent.

  83. AD8BC says:

    I will say this.

    What Europe has done with diesel is incredible.

    Saturn is looking at a diesel car in 2009 (based on their partnership with Opel in Europe).

    A recent article in Popular Mechanics outlines the possibility of using clean diesel to power cars and trucks that get 60-70 MPG.

    So I can understand some of the treehuggers here saying that the technology has been around to make this happen. When they make a diesel F-150 that gets me 50 MPH, by golly I’m going to buy one to replace my gas guzzler.

    And I betcha that if the automakers bring that clean diesel technology to the game, people will want to buy them. That’s capitalism, and that’s how it should work. Instead the automakers are going to whine about the added costs, end up using technology that currently exists, and charging us $6000 extra anyway. Then they will lose out to the foreign companies, and end up finding strategic ways to save and then will finally sell us these high-mileage cars at a decent price. That’s capitalism too.

    The technology is there. And it is enough to even make these hated SUVs fuel efficient. And just as powerful.

    *bows to Buran*

    However, once this happens, will the SUVs still be a target even though they will be fuel efficient?

  84. coaster.n3rd says:

    Yeah… sheep like. Sure… Will it suit you if i was like most of the commenters here? What if I sounded like this.

    “My toyota gets me so far on a single tank, nevermind the recalls.. Toyota is perfect. Lurve tOyota… duuuuurrrrrrrrrrr…..”

    Is that better? How about this:

    “GM GO BANKRUPT… duurrrrr..”

    I want to be just like you. i figure all I need is a labotomy and some tights.

  85. karmaghost says:

    Good thing I won’t ever buy a GM vehicle, lol. But really, if you can’t figure out the whole 35 MPG thing by 2020 then somebody better call the WHAAAmbulance.

  86. karmaghost says:

    wow, btw i didn’t get the whambulance reference from HRHKINGFRIDAY in the Merrill Lynch post. It was just too much of a coincidence to not say anything about it.

  87. 92BuickLeSabre says:

    So that means the Tata Nano costs $-3500 to build?

  88. Buran says:

    Ignore it. These idiots whine and complain about every single safety innovation but manage to keep building cars that are priced fine.

    They did this with seatbelts, too, for instance…

    The same argument was raised against standardizing closed-caption decoders into TVs. What happened? The price dropped like a rock due to economies of scale and now a decoder chip for a TV, TV decoder card, or other widget costs a few cents over millions of units.

  89. Snarkysnake says:

    A couple of things here:
    One : GM probably WON’T hire 2-3000 more engineers to meet these new standards.They WILL however, hire a bunch of lawyers and lobbyists to get the standards changed.

    Two: Bob Lutz is as full of shit as a christmas turkey.Lutz (and his employer GM) would love to keep selling their 22 foot long profit boxes and when the fuel gets too pricey,just send a few thousand “volunteers” to die in some God forsaken desert to make it cheaper.I hope all of you assholes tooling around in your Escalade realize that our miltary is paying with their lives for your damn lifestyle appliance.

  90. Sudonum says:

    I believe Coaster Nerd was referring to this news tidbit.

  91. bohemian says:

    As a consumer I am sick of listening to the US automakers whine about long term change. Our current newer car is a VW that gets 35 and it is a larger 4 door. So far it has been more reliable than our US gas guzzler.

    When we were car shopping we found that getting a TDI diesel VW was nearly impossible and Prius were usually a waiting list. At the same time the GM dealerships are begging people to take their SUVs off their hands and offering all sorts of rebates.

    GM claimed that nobody wanted to buy the EV1 electrics. There were waiting lists and people hanging outside of the recall factory picketing trying to keep their cars pulled back when the leases ended. If they were anywhere in the range of new car prices and I was ready to buy a new car I would be all over it.
    Were already seriously considering buying a SMART car.

  92. bohemian says:

    @snarkysnake: Please, don’t invite me for Thanksgiving dinner.

  93. Sudonum says:

    And for those of you complaining about US Consumers being sheep, this was an interesting post about Toyota’s halo effect on Consumerists sister site []

  94. humphrmi says:

    GM is welcome to price their cars $6000 more than their competition.

  95. Ariel.Sanders says:

    @coaster.n3rd: Quotations for lines you “borrow” from films.

    (I want to be just like you. i figure all I need is a labotomy and some tights.)

    Which one was that again anyway?

  96. JiminyChristmas says:

    @ripple: Or you could look at it this way: If the US had a system of universal health insurance and a more generous form of public pensions, like in Japan, then those costs would be spread across society. Instead, US automakers are saddled with legacy costs that add a couple thousand dollars to the cost of each American car.

    Also, why scapegoat union workers? They negotiated for their pay and benefits, and what they have is what GM is willing to give them. What’s wrong with that? GM is certainly willing to charge what the market will bear for their cars…why shouldn’t the UAW do the same with their labor?

  97. Landru says:


    41.4? Really? The EPA on a ’06 Cobalt is only 22 in city and 31 on highway.


  98. CumaeanSibyl says:

    @ad8bc: I didn’t know all that about diesel — that’s great.

    And I think you’ve adequately explained one of the biggest problems with free-market capitalism: theoretically, yes, companies should recognize that it’s in their best interests to provide fuel-efficient cars, and do so on their own.

    Unfortunately, we aren’t running on theories, and in reality, sometimes companies are run by whiny morons who need a boot in the ass to get them to recognize their own best interests.

    I don’t like government intervention much, but if the alternative is letting GM slowly drown in its own concentrated stupid, I suppose I’ll take it.

  99. Teki says:

    6K per a car if fine GM.

    anyway my prediction for headlines in 2021. “GM goes bankrupt, closes doors.”

  100. LucyInTheSky says:

    @randotheking: exactly what i said when i read the headline. This sounds suspiciously influenced by oil companies to me.

  101. ripple says:


    The problem is that what GM pays them ISNT what they are willing to pay. Its what they are forced to pay or they stroke. Besides they work they do isnt worth anything NEAR what they are paid. I worked in a union job once and saw how lazy everyone was. Nobody put forth any effort and why should they. Why should I work my ass off when some lazy slob next to me barely does any work and gets paid the same. Unions extort money from corporations and promotes mediocrity in employees

  102. milty45654 says:

    How will that raise prices 12 years from now? Toyota and Honda do it now for the same price. GM is a fraud…which is why I will never buy a car from them….

  103. AD8BC says:

    @CumaeanSibyl: I think it was in the January Popular Mechanics… or one of those other magazines I read in the airport. Clean diesel is going to be the bridge between gas and non-fossil fuels, I believe.

  104. Elijah-M says:

    How much do GM’s lobbying efforts add to the price of the cars they’re already selling? Perhaps if they put that money and energy into the R&D required to produce safer, more efficient cars (which, as Toyota’s sales figures show, people DO want), everyone — their fast shrinking customer base, their employees and their shareholders — would benefit greatly.

    American car companies have spent the last two decades lobbying against something that the market is now forcing them to do. Their continued failure to recognize this is baffling.

  105. balthisar says:

    You guys know nothing about the auto industry, and you’re a bunch of schadenfreude-laden kids. Just because GM is speaking up doesn’t mean that this isn’t true for “green” Toyota and Honda as well (both of whom sell gas guzzlers; GM sells high MPG cars today). This isn’t something that only GM has to confront, but Ford, Chrysler, Daimler, VW, Toyota, Honda, Nissan, and all the bit players, too. These guys all build gas guzzlers. They all also sell fuel-sipping cars.

    Ten years, also, isn’t that far in the future for heavy industries such as the automobile, and certainly not for engines. Do you want a sludge-laden piece of crap that should never hit the market (like Toyota did), or something reliable and tested?

  106. Parting says:

    GM is lying. Japanese manufacturers are already doing better than that. And cars often cost LESS than GM current models.

    If they raise prices by 6K, people will buy other brands.

    Not a big loss.

  107. GearheadGeek says:

    @chouchou: While Maximum Bob is exaggerating wildly as he’s wont to do, the Japanese fleet average for vehicles sold in the US isn’t close to 35 mpg yet. They have cars that can do it, so does GM. Americans aren’t BUYING them, we want huge showy Land Cruisers and Sequoias, driving down Toyota’s fleet average that’s helped by the Prius, Corolla, Camry Hybrid, Camry 4 cylinder, etc.

    If people were buying 4cylinder Malibus, Aveos, etc, instead of Tahoes and Suburbans and Escalades, GM’s CAFE would be higher now. It’s not the mix of vehicles offered, it’s the mix SOLD. The efficient car no one buys doesn’t solve anything.

  108. parnote says:

    LMAO!!! This, from the company who was short-sighted enough to KILL the EV-1. Go figure!

  109. Sam says:

    Look, this line (or some variant of it) is used every time efficiency standards are created or tightened in this country. From the very first efficiency standards, for refrigerators in California, some companies complained. In the end, they found new technologies that would allow them to meet the standards while providing better services. Generally, efficiency standards don’t raise prices too much. Rather, they promote innovation in what can be stagnant industries.

  110. Amy Alkon says:

    GM claimed that nobody wanted to buy the EV1 electrics. There were waiting lists and people hanging outside of the recall factory picketing trying to keep their cars pulled back when the leases ended. If they were anywhere in the range of new car prices and I was ready to buy a new car I would be all over it.
    Were already seriously considering buying a SMART car.

    I couldn’t afford an EV1 when they were out, but I used to stare at EV1 owner Ted Danson all the time outside the gym. I’m sure he thought I was stalking him, but the truth was, I was stalking his car.

    I drive a 2004 Honda Insight hybrid. 1900lbs, park it in the mere notion of a parking space, looks like something out of Tom Swift. Oh yeah, and I spent $235 on gas. LAST YEAR. Yes, for the entire year.

  111. Amy Alkon says:

    Sorry, forgot. I get about 45 mpg in city street traffic, and 60 on the highway if traffic is flowing. And I have an automatic. People with manual on the Insight BB get 100 or more.

    One negative: They just came out with some dumb commercial where the person forgets which side to pull up to the pump on to get gas — that was the reality for me for a while. After three years, I remember. But, I also used to leave my gas cap on my car and drive away. After the second time, they felt sorry for me at the Honda dealer and sold me the $12 off-brand replacement gas cap.

    PS I’m originally from Detroit, and remember the oil crisis in the 70s. Detroit has been sitting on its technological ass for 30-plus years. And they’re whining now?

  112. FLConsumer says:

    Gee… my old 1979 Mercedes-Benz diesel got 35mpg easily. If I remember correctly, the diesel version of the car was marginally higher or even possibly the same price. If Mercedes could do it THIRTY YEARS AGO, I’d hope GM could figure out how to do it some 40 years later.

    This isn’t just a GM problem… how come all of the US car manufacturers build very inefficient cars? I recently had a Ford Tarus rental car (think it was a 4-cylinder) that only got 20-21mpg with city driving. My Japanese car with a V8 engine gets 23-25mpg with the same type of driving. Pathetic.

  113. mcjake says:

    Headline from Jan. 1, 2020: “GM increases prices by $6,000 to meet fuel efficiency requirements. Goes out of business three hours later.”

  114. CumaeanSibyl says:

    @ripple: You think non-union shops don’t have the same problems? Ha. I should introduce you to the guys at my last job. They weren’t unionized, but they gave a damn good impression of it.

  115. Trai_Dep says:

    Toyota deserves a halo effect for their Prius. I’d buy one of their other cars if not their hybrid, precisely because some of my money would go to an even better hybrid down the line. Versus the extra money for a relatively fuel-efficient GM car (were I that dumb) would go for advanced cup-holder technology or ways to add even more dead weight to their SUV line.

  116. mikelotus says:

    Toyota already meets the mileage requirements. However they lobbied against the new requirements. Why? Because by 2010 they will be even further along and they are betting that will be enough to finally bury the “Big 3.” Nice.

    Fuel economy standards are bad policy never the less. More taxes on gas will cause market forces to push things in the right direction, look at Europe and Japan. However, with Republicans there is no good time to raise a tax and no bad time to cut a tax. Since cars and trucks don’t pay a fair share for the costs of roads, deaths on the highway and pollution, everyone pays whether or not they drive or don’t drive or drive a high mileage car. When was the last time Federal Gas tax went up? Its been so damn long, I can’t even remember. Higher gas tax means more money to allocate to mass transportation also. Wouldn’t it be cool if we had 350 mph trains too?

  117. phead says:

    Just a minute, I make that 42MPG (UK Gallon), which happens to be my average over the last 10000 miles, in my Vauxhall.

    Guess Which Company Vauxhall is a subsidiary of!

    (42 UK MPG is actually poor for a car in Europe)

  118. Grrrrrrr, now with two buns made of bacon. says:

    It’s even more of a shock to GM because of the total surprise. “OMG, there’s concern about fuel economy? When did that happen?”

    Apparently GM executives can’t hear the news about $100 a barrel oil, expensive gasoline, and global warming over the roar of thousands of hummers.

    The rules of natural selection often cause the unfit to perish. So long, GM.

  119. majortom1981 says:

    Actually toyota is a weird company they lobied for And against the new regulations. Which is weird for a company to do.

  120. TCameron says:

    Boohoo GM; suck it up, quit bitching and actually make cars that are worth driving that also get decent mileage. You will be out of business by the time these regulations go into effect. Mark my words.

  121. kimsama says:

    @coaster.n3rd: Lobotomy. There’s no such thing as a frontal “labe.”

    @Ariel.Sanders: Breakfast Club, right?

  122. Flibbetigibbet says:

    I’ve got no pity for (or beef with) GM, but this thread is proof that most of the people who write for or post on this site never had to take a physics class. You can’t get something for nothing, especially when it comes to propelling several tons of metal and plastic at high speeds.

  123. TheNubble says:

    Many of you are missing the fact that the government shouldn’t be mandating this kind of crap in the first place. This mandate wasn’t directed at GM. It was imposed on all car makers. GM is merely pointing out the fact that regulations such as this result in higher costs which result in higher prices. Congress has no clue how to build a car, yet they impose these idiotic regulations on those who do. In addition, car companies who want to be successful have to build cars that people want and sell them at a profit. If this is truly what people want, then people will pay for it. If not, then people will have to step up and tell congress to stop this nonsense and leave industry and the free market alone and ley car makers build the cars that people want to buy.

  124. cerbie says:

    @bravo369: wussify the Mustang? More than it is?

    @JiminyChristmas: there will be plenty of oil to bring up long after we’re gone. Peak oil is a problem of amount extracted v. investment, not the amount left for us in the Earth.

    @tz: there are many people with EVs to call BS on that. Interestingly, GM is trying to, as well.

    @Christovir: they won’t die. They will throw the peas all around the room, and cry until daddy gives them a handout of your grandchildrens’ tax dollars.

    @CaliforniaCajun: gas or desiel electric should be able take all three. But, apparently it wasn’t until the media coverage of their wonderful lease returns that they realized there might be people wanting something they weren’t already selling.

    Ultimately, a fuel tax is the only real way to do it. Before that happens, though, I wonder how well the new diesel VWs do?

  125. JustaConsumer says:

    Remember what they said about airbags and seat belts and ABS brakes etc etc….

  126. ianmac47 says:

    This mandatory fuel efficiency is what American car manufacturers need to encourage investment in new technology — and make them competitive to buyers in the other 80% of the world where fuel efficiency is the number one concern of buyers. Europe, China, India– buyers there need fuel efficient cars; if American automakers had invested in fuel efficiency 30 years ago, maybe they would have a larger market share overseas today.

  127. Transient says:

    It’s interesting reading the few comments on both sides regarding the “EV1” and the documentary “Who Killed The Electric Car?” If you haven’t seen it, it’s absolutely worth watching.

    Was there no demand for the EV1, or was is dead in the water due to lack of advertising, massive government subsidies for large SUVs, the inability to actually PURCHASE the car, GMs annihilation of the car against owner’s wills or simply some of the technological limitations of the time that can now be overcome?

    I enjoyed watching it. The topic is well researched and gives you a lot of hope in what American car manufacturers are capable of – and a lot of dissapointment in what they do with that capability.

  128. balthisar says:

    @ianmac47: Nothing personal, but you’re spouting ignorance. American cars already meet these standards overseas, and they have large market shares overseas.

  129. disavow says:

    Funny how nobody mentions decreasing the federal speed limit to 55. Ever. OMG tyranny!!!

  130. vladthepaler says:

    Won’t 12 years worth of inflation raise car prices by that much anyway?

  131. vladthepaler says:

    OK, it ate my comment. Let’s try again…

    Won’t 12 years of inflation raise car prices by $6000 anyway?

  132. kimsama says:

    @TheNubble: The government is trying to use regulation to prevent market failure. That’s a pretty standard reason for regulation, since Americans who drive gas-guzzlers aren’t paying for the negative externalities their purchases impose on everyone else.

    Not to mention that if there was another gas crisis, and gas shot up to, say, $8 or $10/gallon relatively quickly, that would have an enormous impact on an unprepared American workforce and economy. Transportation costs would explode, driving up inflation and eroding our economy. To some extent, forcing car makers in the US to match the efficiency already proven to be possible by other countries’ fleets would ameliorate the damage.

    While Congress may not know how to build a car, they are better equipped than GM to know which policies will protect the American economy and environment. It’s all a series of trade-offs, and I think making consumers pay more for cars is an acknowledgment of the need for the negative externalities to be addressed and paid for.

  133. TheNubble says:

    KIMSAMA: What “negative externalities” are you referring to. I would submit that one major negative externality resulting from cafe standards is the increased number of traffic deaths each year as cars become lighter and have more plastic parts. Also, have you seen the cars in Europe? I’d love to see a family of four take a vacation in a SMART car. Americans have a much different relationship with their cars than the rest of the world. It’s a whole different culture. We could control fuel prices if we had control of the market. Unfortunately, we are depecndant on foreign oil. If the government allowed industry to drill and refine oil here, this would not be an issue. Once again, government interference contributes to, rather than resolves, the problem.

  134. Rusted says:

    Gah….nonsense. Who needs land yachts? I remember my gargantuan 1972 Buick LeSabre four door hardtop (No B Pillars) fondly but that’s in the past. I have to get 25 mpg or better NOW. Also, no more GM for me, they kept breaking.

    @unklegwar: If you noticed, Honda have been getting larger too. Read recently that the Accord just made large car size.

    @ShortBus: American Motors Corp…RIP.

    @ShortBus: No, not really. The domestic car makers have been forcing their parts suppliers to outsource to China for a long time. My Subaru is more American then most.

    @strum40: The Tundra and Tacoma are pickups, not SUVs.

    @JiminyChristmas: Maybe $12.00 per liter.

    @Freedomboy: Not all of us live where there’s mass transit. I used to live out in the country. Only buses that were public were bright yellow and went to only one place.

    @Landru: It depends on the driving. I can get four or more miles then the EPA on any car, and still get there on time.

    @GearheadGeek: Not me man, my land yacht was beached years ago.

    @parnote:The main drawback about electric cars is range. It’s still more efficient to store energy in gas or diesel then a battery pack.

    There was one guy who tried to drive across the USA. He gave up when he hit the coastal range, bought an old Suburban and a trailer so he could get across in less then a season. Another guy did manage to go a long way, but he built a diesel powered “pusher” to help.

    @disavow: No one liked the double-nickel then and no one will like it now. Live out west or in the central plains, it is a much longer ride to civilization.

    @TheNubble:Cars in Europe, especially the German ones are safer. Saw a picture of one guy walking away from an autobahn wreck and as I recall, no speed limits, though that may be changing. Some cool pictures of cars in trees, amazing what happens at warp speed.

  135. rioja951 - Why, oh why must I be assigned to the vehicle maintenance when my specialty is demolitions? says:

    My grandpa had a friend from Mexico who had a funny wordplay with the Ford brand name, when something like ordinary construction and daily repairs or so.

    Ever since I have had a car, I’ve gone and got Honda or Mazda. I’ve wanted a Subaru, but don’t want to drive all the way to the other end of the city to the only dealership here.

    In any case, let them whine. The industry will just comply b/c somebody will have cars that comply with no problems and at a relatively good price. (Won’t say who, every body knows)

  136. dcartist says:


    Why should GM have any more trouble making efficient cars than Japanese makers?

  137. Steeb2er says:

    @CamilleR: Congrats on your Yaris … hope you like it.

    GM *DOES* make cars that are inexpensive and get decent fuel economy. Chevy Aveo, Pontiac Vibe, Pontiac G5, Chevy Cobalt all come to mind.

    To those of you claiming the advertising FORCES people to want bigger cars … that’s a “chicken or the egg” scenario. It happens that GM’s best sellers are their bigger vehicles because that’s what people want. No one is strong-arming them into buying a Yukon XL when they came to the showroom for an Aveo. Sorry – doesn’t happen.

  138. raskolnik says:

    Couple things from reading the comments.

    One. I’d like to mirror the total lack of sympathy for GM. Complaining about how expensive it’ll be to do something that other companies have been putting into better-made and cheaper cars for years? My 8-year-old Civic does this already, and it’s already lasted longer than any GM car my family has owned.

    Two. Why the fuss over buying American? It’s funny to me that it’s generally the most stalwart free-market capitalists who say you should base your buying decision on something other than cost. Furthermore, why is a job in America more valid than a job in another country? Why does someone here deserve it more just by being American? If I buy a car, I’m supporting the people who made it, period. Just because that person is Mexican, Japanese, or whatever doesn’t mean they deserve it less. Isn’t the whole idea behind the free market the idea that the money goes to the people who make the best products for cheapest? Why does that beautiful theory of yours go out the window when that means giving money to a fer-in-er?

    Finally, GM, you are welcome to add $6,000 to the price of cars that are generally overpriced to begin with. I’ll just go spend less on a Honda or Toyota that will last me three times as long and cost me a tenth in maintenance.

  139. atkruz789 says:

    @AD8BC: “When they make a diesel F-150 that gets me 50 MPH, by golly I’m going to buy one to replace my gas guzzler.”

    cough…keep your eyes peeled….cough

    I would buy a diesel car in the US if the big three made one!

    The auto companies do not have that long to make the technology. First off they are already working on the 2012 vehicles now and engines are developed prior to working on the rest of the vehicle. In order to test and validate so that people get a “quality product” that adds at least another year to that date. So what looks like 12 years is actually more like 6.

    On that note I am calling BS on Lutz, according to the GM powertrain chief ([]) they will have the HCCI ([]) engines before 2020. Which is a diesel like MPG from a gas engine.

    The Chevy Aveo, a Daewoo I know, is less than 11k and gets 34MPG. GM sells the crap out of this car too.