The war of words over a possible 62 MPG 2025 CAFE standard is accelerating this week, as letters in support of the standard [sub] are vying with industry responses against the proposal for media attention. And though environmentalists are quick to point out the often-misunderstood difference between EPA and CAFE mileage ratings (a fact that even the industry-friendly Automotive News [sub] concedes, if only in a blog post], the industry’s response is miles away from any kind of compromise, saying
The alliance believes it is inappropriate to be promoting any specific fuel economy/greenhouse gas at this point
How’s that for some old-school, don’t-tread-on-me corporate attitude? No room for compromise, no sense of nuance… and yet, that doesn’t actually represent the industry’s position at all.
Toyota, a member of the AAM, has already publicly stated that it has no problem with any future CAFE standards. VP Jim Colon explains:
The administration is engaged. That’s the direction Toyota is already going. Whatever goal they establish, Toyota will be prepared to meet. If it’s 62 miles a gallon, we’ll be able to achieve that.
And, if anything, Toyota’s compliant attitude is the product of pressure from Hyundai, which recently took the industry-leading step of publishing its sales-weighted fleet average fuel economy on a monthly basis. Hyundai USA CEO John Krafcik has been outspoken about his brand’s plan to “overcomply” with CAFE, pointing out that Hyundai’s Elantra will reach 50 MPG CAFE combined by its 2015 redesign, a good 10 years before the 62 MPG standard might take effect.
But despite the industry’s tough position and internal dissent, the AAM does bring up one strong argument in this war of words: that, whaerever it ends up, the standard
should not be arbitrary numbers, chosen before the necessary analyses are completed.
This accusation does stick to California’s Air Resource Board, which has insisted on a 62 MPG 2025 standard since long before feasibility studies were complete. At the same time, the accusation is fairly irrelevant at this point. The AAM has little credibility given the dissent in its ranks, as the industry is split on whether 62 MPG is reasonable and achievable, or a coming apocalypse. And as long as the anti-62 MPG faction fails to convince the rest of their industry to hold the line at (say) a 50 MPG standard, though, it’s probably doomed to fail.