The Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) apparently has softened its opposition to more stringent vehicle mileage standards proposed Tuesday by President Obama that would mandate 39 mpg for cars and 30 mpg for light trucks by 2016.

In the past, RVIA has adamantly been against increasing CAFE standards set by the National Highway Safety Transportation Administration (NHTSA) — as have North American auto manufacturers.

In a press release today (May 21), however, RVIA simply urged Congress and the Obama administration to take into consideration the need the RV industry has for tow vehicles.

Facing the fact that the auto industry is apparently accepting of standards laid out by the California Air Resources Board (CARB) and endorsed by the president, RV makers appear to be lining up behind the program this time — with a caveat.

RVIA spokesmen were unavailable for comment beyond the release by RVIA President Richard Coon, the text of which is as follows:

RVIA is urging the Administration, Congress, the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to strongly consider the ongoing need for adequately powered tow vehicles after President Obama’s proposal on Tuesday to cut new vehicle carbon emissions and raise mileage standards.

Under the proposed plan, both cars and light trucks would need to together average 35.5 miles per gallon (mpg) by 2016 with car standards rising from the current 27.5 mpg to 39 mpg and light trucks increasing to 30 mpg from 24 mpg.

A vehicle’s towing capability is a critical issue for the owners of towable products, and it is imperative that any new rules moving forward give consideration to towing attributes that will enable vehicle manufacturers to meet the need and demand for vehicles with heavy towing capability. In order to tow and stop safely, tow vehicles must have certain equipment, including a stronger transmission, a larger radiator to cool the transmission, heavy duty shock absorbers, heavy duty springs, larger tires and larger brakes. While these components add weight, they also provide safety, durability and capacity for towing.

This is a critical issue for the RV industry with towable units now making up approximately 85% of the RV market.

The goals of this newly proposed program need to be fairly balanced with the need for adequately powered and safe tow vehicles for consumers and the potential consequences on a great many industries – including the RV industry.

As an industry whose customers enjoy recreating in the Great Outdoors, we support conservation efforts aimed at preserving the quality of the environment, but serious review and discussion is needed as this proposal moves forward.