Speaking at a public hearing on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's 2011-2015 fuel economy standards, Mark Cooper, director of Research at the Consumer Federation of America, said the new standards "assume consumers don't want fuel economy and set a minimum standard."
Cooper said the automakers and the NHTSA failed to recognize early cues that U.S. consumers were shifting their focus to fuel efficiency.
"The auto industry acts as if plummeting SUV and pickup truck sales are a new phenomenon. The fact is gas guzzling vehicle sales have been falling off a cliff for over three years," Cooper said.
Currently, there is "a huge mismatch" between consumer demand for fuel efficiency and what consumers find in automobile showrooms, CFA said in a statement.
In a 2008 survey, 59 percent of the respondents indicated they want to get more than 35 miles per gallon out of their next vehicle, but only 1 percent of the cars on the market can run that efficiently, the CFA statement said.