The regulations that set fuel-economy and greenhouse-gas emission goals for cars and trucks have lower costs and higher benefits than previous analyses report, a new Carnegie Mellon University study shows.

According to EPP Assistant Professor Kate Whitefoot who co-authored the report, the current standards are not nearly as difficult to hit--and can have even greater positive effects--once you account for the ability of automakers to make tradeoffs with other vehicle attributes.

Under the current regulations, the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration is required to set efficiency standards based on the available technology and economic practicability at the time.

They do this, however, by restricting the considered technologies to those that either maintain or improve other aspects of the vehicle's performance--particularly when it comes to acceleration time.

In her paper, "Compliance by Design: Influence of Acceleration Tradeoffs on CO2 Emissions and Costs of Fuel Economy and Greenhouse Gas Regulations," Whitefoot analyses the role that design tradeoffs, such as compromising acceleration, can play in cost-effectively bringing vehicles into compliance with regulations.

"The costs of the regulations to consumers and automakers are lower than other policy analyses imply," Whitefoot says, "because they don't consider tradeoffs between fuel economy and acceleration performance.

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