Cleaner Cars Create Jobs

New Study Shows Strong Vehicle Standards Boost Economy

Published Mar 28, 2018 Updated Mar 28, 2019

WASHINGTON (March 28, 2018)—Vehicle efficiency and emissions standards are a remarkably successful policy, delivering cleaner cars every year, saving drivers money at the pump, and reducing the pollution that causes climate change. A new study has found another important benefit of the standards: they create jobs and economic growth.

The new analysis, conducted by Synapse Energy Economics, Inc., finds that clean-car standards spur investments in automotive technology, creating new jobs in the auto sector.  In addition, the big savings the standards offer to drivers at every fill-up get re-invested into the economy. The standards, which were put into place in 2012, will create more than 100,000 U.S. jobs in 2025 and more than 250,000 U.S. jobs in 2035, according to the study. These jobs would be in the auto technology and manufacturing sectors, as well as in other sectors, such as retail, due to the additional consumer spending allowed by fuel savings. The U.S. gross domestic product would see a boost of more than $13 billion in 2025 and $16 billion in 2035.

The Synapse study looked at a number of factors—including the cost of deploying new clean vehicle technologies and the fuel savings that would result—and found that the current standards deliver positive economic growth both in the near term and years to come.

“It’s clear that the clean vehicle standards we have in place today are working well,” said Dave Cooke, senior vehicles analyst at the Union of Concerned Scientists. “They’re doing exactly what they were designed to do—and this study is just more evidence that we need to keep moving forward.”

The analysis rebuts findings from a study sponsored by the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers released last year that automakers have used to argue for weaker standards.

“Clean car standards are cutting pollution, benefiting the U.S. economy, and creating jobs,” said Simon Mui, senior scientist at the Natural Resources Defense Council. “A Trump rollback of these standards would harm the public and American autoworkers.”

In an increasingly global and carbon-conscious marketplace, automakers need to consistently improve efficiency to stay competitive. History shows, however, that we need strong rules to spur the innovation required to develop cleaner cars—and that manufacturers have suffered when they fall behind.

“This analysis shows the folly of putting the brakes on fuel economy standards in the name of auto industry relief,” said Therese Langer, transportation program director at the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy. “Fuel-efficient vehicles don’t just put money in consumers’ pockets and promote economic growth — they create jobs and increase investment in that very industry.”

The Trump administration is expected to announce in the coming days that it will reconsider the standards, likely with the intention of weakening them. The new analysis shows that consumers and the broader economy would lose if they do.