Remember how the government bailout team forgot to make sure its “Irrevocable Ecological Commitment” from Fiat was measured in “adjusted” Miles Per Gallon, using the EPA test cycle that provides your window sticker number? Well, the same “unadjusted” MPG number Sergio Marchionne used to his advantage is used to calculate the CAFE ratings that have the industry in such an tizzy. Well, the official lobbying parts of the industry, anyway [see also, here]. Hyundai has been saying for some time that it is targeting a 50 MPG fleet average by 2025, although CEO John Krafcik said as recently as August that he didn’t know how the automaker would reach that goal. Now, however, it looks like he’s found a way to bring 50 MPG within reach: use CAFE’s “unadjusted” standard. Just like Sergio. Follow along as Hyundai shows that 50 MPG isn’t as far off as many seem to believe.
Here you can see at the serious discrepancy between the EPA’s “adjusted” or “window sticker” fuel economy numbers and CAFE’s “unadjusted” numbers as demonstrated by the 2011 Sonata. In this example, a currently-available, American-built midsized sedan comes within 3.4 MPG of the proposed 2016 CAFE standard for passenger cars (37.8 MPG combined)… despite having a 26 MPG combined EPA sticker.
Using the discrepancy demonstrated in the previous slide, Hyundai points out that a 50 MPG combined unadjusted (“50 MPG CAFE”) vehicle will actually get only 37 MPG on its combined “window sticker” EPA number. Which starts to sound quite attainable when you consider the next slide:
For CAFE purposes, Hyundai’s “midsized” (using EPA interior volume ratings, rather than CAFE “footprint” just to confuse things) non-hybrid Elantra gets 44.4 MPG combined. That means 50 MPG is well within a generation of development, according to the Korean automaker. Though ambitious, an 11 percent reduction in fuel consumption in a four-year development cycle is no moon-shot… and it would put the Elantra at 50 MPG in time for the 37.8 MPG passenger car standard proposed for 2016.
Of course, Hyundai doesn’t have the future fuel economy regulations in a chokehold just yet. There are, after all, the Equus, Genesis, Azera, Sonata and “light trucks” to worry about. Besides, it looks like the EPA (or, at least its its pals at CARB) have 62 MPG in mind for 2025, a target which ups the ante even farther than the 50 MPG Hyundai had anticipated.
And, since we’re making sense of this for the benefit of consumers, we have to also point out that automakers are getting better at gaming even the “adjusted” EPA test to deliver a window sticker number that can be nearly impossible to replicate in the real world. If achieving the CAFE standard can be easy, EPA and the manufacturers need to make sure the “adjusted” numbers on window stickers are actually more relevant than “unadjusted” CAFE numbers. Or better yet, stop confusing the consumers, media and policymakers, and measure CAFE with a “real world” number that can be displayed on EPA window stickers with confidence.