By on January 17, 2017

pumping fuel

It would be fair to suggest that government agencies have held the automotive industry by the testicles with both hands for much of the Obama administration. America’s fuel economy and emissions targets are noble, but have cost manufacturers peace of mind and plenty of money. Enter President-elect Donald Trump, who spent a great deal of his campaign promising to repeal some of those standards and change things for the industry.

Are the current targets too lofty? Most automakers would say yes, but it depends on who you’re asking. However, the odds of Trump rolling back efficiency standards in a meaningful way is on par with us returning to the Bronze Age. While not impossible, it’s incredibly difficult to turn back the tide of progress. Even if the 45th President of the United States did manage to dismantle the EPA, abolish Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) regulations, and convince China to nuke us into the Stone Age, there remains the outside world to consider. (Read More…)

By on January 13, 2017

pumping fuel

Environmental Protection Agency administrator Gina McCarthy has decided to maintain current emissions and fuel economy standards through 2025, cementing a central pillar of the Obama administration’s green legacy.

Many automakers have been critical of Obama’s rather strict climate policies and were hopeful that President-elect Donald Trump might roll back some of the more stringent regulations. Of the policies, none is more controversial than the corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) mandate, which began a midterm review earlier this year.

While the EPA’s ultimate determination wasn’t due until April of 2018, choosing not to alter 2025 vehicle emission and CAFE rules effectively locks in the standard before Trump can take office.  (Read More…)

By on December 7, 2016

Scott Pruitt (Gage Skidmore/Flickr)

It looks like the Environmental Protection Agency’s rush to cement fuel economy targets before Inauguration Day wasn’t due to paranoia.

According to the New York Times, President-elect Donald Trump has tapped Oklahoma attorney general Scott Pruitt to head the EPA. Pruitt, 48, is a top opponent of the Obama administration’s environmental regulations and climate change policy, going so far as to organize legal action against the federal government.

Pruitt’s nod is bad news for environmentalists, and good news for industry. Automakers could soon find themselves less burdened by green tape. (Read More…)

By on December 6, 2016

2016 Chevrolet Malibu

You don’t just develop a multi-cog transmission with your longstanding rival and not use it.

With that in mind, General Motors has big short-term plans for the nine-speed automatic it co-developed with Ford Motor Company. Already announced as uplevel equipment in three models, GM plans to spread the nine-speed love to a total of 10 models within a year. (Read More…)

By on December 3, 2016

Mark-Fields (Image: Ford)

Ford Motor Company CEO Mark Fields doesn’t have kind words for the Environmental Protection Agency’s surprise decision to keep long-term fuel economy targets in place.

A mid-term review of corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) targets set in 2012 kicked off earlier this year, but the timing of the agency’s recent decision to maintain the 54.5 mile-per-gallon goal reeks of politics, Fields claims.

For automakers, reaching 54.5 mpg means extra costs. To avoid this, Ford is prepared to turn to its election campaign sparring partner — President-elect Donald Trump — for help. (Read More…)

By on November 30, 2016

gas-pump-save-ftr

Fuel economy standards set by the Obama administration for the 2022 to 2025 model years will remain, the Environmental Protection Agency has stated.

The environmental regulator announced its proposed determination earlier today, part of its midterm review of the country’s corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) targets. Forget cheap gas and never mind the SUV craze — 54.5 miles per gallon is still the government’s goal. (Read More…)

By on November 26, 2016

FreeValve engine (Image: Koenigsegg Automotive AB)

A Swedish company with close ties to a hard-to-spell supercar maker has thrown a wrench into the automotive world, unveiling a production-ready piston engine that doesn’t use a camshaft.

Developed by FreeValve AB, which isn’t a Nordic Lynyrd Skynyrd cover band, the new engine technology ditches a camshaft for other modes of valve actuation, gaining power and efficiency in the process. Unlike some other touted internal combustion engine advancements, this technology already has a customer. (Read More…)

By on November 14, 2016

dealership

Barring those pesky instances where automakers were forced to hand cash to buyers as a make-nice gesture, the Environmental Protection Agency fuel economy labels found on window stickers are actually pretty accurate.

That’s the verdict from Consumer Reports’ just-released study on the real-world mileage of 2009-2016 model year vehicles, but it comes with an asterisk. Don’t break out the champagne just yet, EPA. (Read More…)

By on November 11, 2016

2015-chevrolet-suburban-ltz-photo-576439-s-1280x782

The post-recession era was an interesting one. As automakers struggled to cram every last piece of fuel-saving technology into their vehicles, gas prices shot up and grimly stayed put. Engine displacements small enough to inspire locker room bullying were suddenly the mainstream.

Naturally, both corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) and sales-weighted fuel economy shot up like U.S. jobs numbers.

America’s rapidly growing lust for light trucks, crossovers and SUVs has been well documented, but until now, the trend has only served to flatline the average gas mileage of the country’s new vehicles. Well, the trend could only go so far before reaching a tipping point. (Read More…)

By on November 5, 2016

2016 Chevrolet Cruze

There’s plenty of speculation that General Motors wants to launch the next-generation Chevrolet Cruze Diesel with a highly marketable 50 mile-per-gallon highway fuel economy figure.

“Hybrids are for wimps! Volkswagen just didn’t like you!” the automaker could claim. GM, of course, hasn’t exactly been silent on its grand plan to lure jilted TDI owners to the brand.

Now that specifications have been released for the upcoming oil burner, we can see that a “new” transmission added to the Cruze lineup will play a big role in chasing that mileage crown. (Read More…)

By on November 2, 2016

pumping fuel

The auto industry’s average fuel economy for new vehicles sputtered upwards by 0.5 miles per gallon last year, according to recent data from the Environmental Protection Agency. While that may sound like cause for celebration, let’s not lose perspective. A statistical record high may be noteworthy, but not necessarily indicative of a new upward trend.

First, let’s try to figure out what happened last year to drive the industry average out of a period of mpg stagnation.

(Read More…)

By on October 15, 2016

Ford 1.0L Ecoboost. Photo courtesy Ford.

If you think engine displacements have become a little too European over here, you’d hate to see the motorcycle-worthy powerplants motivating econoboxes on the other side of the pond.

Paired with the magic of modern technology, inline threes and parallel twins can now make enough grunt to move respectably sized vehicles. However, those days could soon be over, all thanks to ambitious regulators and the downsized engines’ tendency to spew man-sized amounts of pollution.

And if you think this isn’t America’s problem, think again. (Read More…)

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