An illustration of a green car driving through various states.
Less costly EVs for all: CR is pushing to make electric vehicles more accessible nationwide.
Illustration: John Ritter

Energizing the Case for EVs

What’s at stake: More than 70 percent of consumers are interested in buying or leasing an electric vehicle (EV), according to CR’s nationally representative 2020 survey of 3,392 U.S. drivers. And for good reason: Though the purchase price of an EV is typically higher than that of an equivalent gas-powered vehicle, recent CR research shows that EVs come out ahead when you factor in total ownership costs, including fuel and maintenance—saving owners $6,000 to $10,000 over the course of an EV’s life span.

How CR has your back: CR is pushing for numerous reforms to help meet the demand for EVs. One of our advocates, alongside CR members, testified in June at an Environmental Protection Agency hearing in support of states’ authority to set stricter emissions standards and establish clean car programs. In addition, Virginia recently became the 14th state to adopt a CR-endorsed program that will make it easier to purchase electric and low-emissions vehicles, and a judge recently cleared the way for Minnesota to become the 15th.

What you can do: Check out CR’s latest electric and hybrid vehicle ratings.

Removing Risky Products

What’s at stake: Exercise equipment company Peloton recalled its Tread+ and Tread treadmills May 5, after the Tread+ was linked to dozens of injuries to children, including one death.

It was a sharp reversal for Peloton, which refused to act in April when the Consumer Product Safety Commission issued an urgent warning for the Tread+.

How CR has your back: CR advocates say the standoff with Peloton reveals a major gap in the CPSC’s authority: It can’t force a company to recall a product without taking it to court, even when the agency’s safety experts have tied a hazardous product to deaths or serious injuries.

“It shouldn’t have required so much time and effort to get this product recalled,” says William Wallace, CR’s manager of safety policy. “The CPSC needs the ability to take quicker, more forceful action when a product is putting people at risk.”

In addition to urging these reforms, CR is backing a bill in Congress that would eliminate the controversial Section 6(b) of the federal Consumer Product Safety Act, which severely restricts the CPSC’s ability to disclose data and warn the public of risks.

What you can do: Consumers can get a full refund on Peloton’s support page until Nov. 6, 2022, and a partial refund after that date.

Making Infant Sleep Safer

What’s at stake: For far too long, unregulated infant sleep products have put babies in danger. Almost 100 infant deaths have been associated with inclined sleepers and at least 23 deaths with unregulated flat sleep products, such as in-bed sleepers. These products all have features that can limit a baby’s ability to breathe freely and can lead to suffocation.

How CR has your back: These dangers were brought to light by a multiyear CR investigation, which drew on the experience of parents of babies who died while placed in some of these products.

Many inclined sleepers were subsequently recalled or removed from the market, but other products remained on sale. So CR has continued to advocate for rules that would require all infant sleep products on the market to follow the safe-sleep recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), which says infants should sleep alone, on their back, on a firm, flat surface with no extra bedding.

On June 2, the CPSC voted in favor of such a rule. Among other things, it requires infant sleepers to comply with strong minimum safety standards, and draws a clear line between products that are safe for sleep and those that are not. The rule will take effect in about a year.

What you can do: We urge caregivers to follow the AAP’s recommendations and immediately stop using any product for infant sleep that does not adhere to them.

Action Update

In our February issue we told you about a rule, put into place by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau last October, that will allow debt collectors to contact consumers via email, text message, and even social media messaging—and call them up to seven times a week for each debt—all without confirming that money is actually owed. In May, CR formally asked the CFPB to rescind the rule and further limit abusive collection practices. And we delivered the signatures of almost 180,000 consumers in support of our request. (You can add your name to the petition to stop abusive debt collectors.) If the CFPB does not take action, the rule will go into effect in November.

Editor’s Note: This article also appeared in the August 2021 issue of Consumer Reports magazine.