On April 1, new federal fuel economy CAFE standards went into effect. By 2016, new cars should get 35 mpg or thereabouts. The true number remains an exercise in abstract algebra. Says Consumer Reports: “The new standards require different fuel economy averages for each manufacturer and for each type of vehicle (such as small, midsized, and large sedans or SUVs).” There are plenty of loopholes and offsets. Extra credit for cars that take E85 Ethanol, for instance. And here is another huge loophole:
“The first 200,000 fuel-cell, plug-in hybrid, or pure electric cars will count as causing zero grams of CO2 emissions,” writes Edmunds. That’s 200,000 per manufacturer. Carmakers that build more than 25,000 such vehicles in 2012 will receive an even loftier ceiling of 300,000. Once the 200,000 or 300,000 car allotment is used up, the smokestack emissions of power plants must be taken into consideration. The EPA is currently at a loss when it comes to putting a true CO2 figure on the power created to charge your car, but they are unconcerned. They expect the allotment to last for a long time.
Thanks to the EPA algebra, supposedly zero emission cars (which would immediately called illegal in the UK) can be used as a momentous offset that enables the automaker to go on and continue selling fuel oinkers. Come on: Unless all power is created by windmills or water turbines, negating the emissions of power plants is and remains a con game. Consider yourself conned.
According to Reuters, “the Obama administration said the initial rating was an incentive to produce electric vehicles, but automakers like General Motors Co, Ford Motor Co, and Chrysler had pushed for an unlimited zero rating.” Honda even suggested that fuel-cell vehicles, such as its Clarity model, should count as 16 zero-emission cars. Boys, listen to the EPA, it will be a while until the 200K or 300K allotment is used up. And push comes to shove, things can always be relegislated.