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The Effects of the Corporate Average Fuel Efficiency Standards

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  • Pinelopi Koujianou Goldbe

Abstract

This paper examines the effects of the Corporate Average Fuel Efficiency standards (CAFE) on the automobile product mix, prices and fuel consumption First a discrete choice model of automobile demand and a continuous model of vehicle use are estimated using micro data from the Consumer Expenditure Survey for 1984-1990. Next, the demand side model is combined with a model of oligopoly and product differentiation on the supply side. After estimating the demand and supply parameters, the effects of the CAFE regulation are assessed through simulations and compared to the effects of alternative policy instruments such as a powerful gas guzzler tax and an increase in the gasoline tax. Our results are as follows: Vehicle use is in the short run unresponsive to fuel cost changes; vehicle purchases, however, respond to both car prices and fuel cost. These results taken together imply that (1) contrary to the CAFE opponents' claims, higher fleet fuel efficiency is not neutralized by increased driving, and (2) policies to reduce fuel consumption by shifting the composition of the car fleet towards more fuel efficient vehicles are more promising than policies that target utilization. Policies with compositional effects operate through two channels: changes in vehicle prices and in operating costs. Contrary to environmental groups' claims, our results do not indicate the existence of consumer myopia. Still, we find the gasoline tax increase necessary to achieve fuel consumption reductions equivalent to the ones currently achieved through CAFE is 780%; whether an increase of this size is politically feasible is questionable. Our results indicate that the CAFE regulation reduced fuel consumption but shifts in the classification of products as domestic vs. imports weakened the effectiveness of the standards.

Suggested Citation

  • Pinelopi Koujianou Goldbe, 1996. "The Effects of the Corporate Average Fuel Efficiency Standards," NBER Working Papers 5673, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:5673
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. James M. Poterba, 1991. "Is the Gasoline Tax Regressive?," NBER Chapters,in: Tax Policy and the Economy, Volume 5, pages 145-164 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Goldberg, Pinelopi Koujianou, 1995. "Product Differentiation and Oligopoly in International Markets: The Case of the U.S. Automobile Industry," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 63(4), pages 891-951, July.
    3. Blair, Roger D & Kaserman, David L & Tepel, Richard C, 1984. "The Impact of Improved Mileage on Gasoline Consumption," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 22(2), pages 209-217, April.
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    Cited by:

    1. A. Greening, Lorna & Greene, David L. & Difiglio, Carmen, 2000. "Energy efficiency and consumption -- the rebound effect -- a survey," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 28(6-7), pages 389-401, June.
    2. Stavins, Robert, 2001. "Lessons from the American Experiment with Market-Based Environmental Policies," Working Paper Series rwp01-032, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government.
    3. Siskos, Pelopidas & Capros, Pantelis & De Vita, Alessia, 2015. "CO2 and energy efficiency car standards in the EU in the context of a decarbonisation strategy: A model-based policy assessment," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 84(C), pages 22-34.
    4. Stavins, Robert, 2003. "Market-Based Environmental Policies: What Can We Learn from U.S. Experience (and Related Research)?," Discussion Papers dp-03-43, Resources For the Future.
    5. Greene, David L, 1998. "Why CAFE worked," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 26(8), pages 595-613, July.
    6. Stela Rubínová, 2011. "Reakce poptávky domácností po energii na zvyšování energetické účinnosti: teorie a její důsledky pro konstrukci empiricky ověřitelných modelů
      [Reaction of Household Energy Demand to Improvements in
      ," Politická ekonomie, University of Economics, Prague, vol. 2011(3), pages 359-378.
    7. Greene, David L., 2012. "Rebound 2007: Analysis of U.S. light-duty vehicle travel statistics," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 41(C), pages 14-28.

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