NHTSA Fines DaimlerChrysler $30,257,635.50

Robert Farago
by Robert Farago

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) sets Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards and collects fines from manufacturers who fail to meet their provisions. NHTSA recently updated their website with a list of CAFE fines the agency collected for model year '06 scofflaws. DaimlerChrysler's $30,257,635.50 penalty covers Mercedes models both imported and domestic, and represents an enormous jump from last year's cost of doing business ($16,895,472). In fact, the now defunct DaimlerChrysler's fine is the largest single amount NHTSA's ever collected, eclipsing BMW's massive penalty in 2001 ($27,985,925). That's not to say that BMW got off lightly for their '06 models; the Sultans of Stuttgart forked over $5,056,012.50 for not meeting the required fleet-wide federal mpg standard. BMW's whack just "beats" Porsche's '06 model year CAFE fines ($4,599,864.50). No wonder Porsche was trying to change the new law to get an exemption as a low volume automaker. Speaking of which, Ferrari shelled-out $842,160 to the feds for their fuel-sucking models' mpgs. As the new standards get tougher, the Germans and Italians are going to have work harder to make the grade, or dig deeper into their corporate coffers. Oh, and if you think about it, guess who really pays these fines?

Robert Farago
Robert Farago

More by Robert Farago

Join the conversation
4 of 24 comments
  • Ihatetrees Ihatetrees on Dec 30, 2007

    Do any domestic makes' models that get horrible mileage take the BMW route and just put it on the damn sticker? I know the Corvette manual has that annoying thingy (easily defeated) that controls what gear you use. Why not just slap the tax on the sticker like the Germans? Or does GM have other vehicle/enviro offsets like Cobalts/Malaysian tree farms?

  • Jthorner Jthorner on Dec 30, 2007

    I don't believe any US based mfg. has ever had to pay a CAFE fine. My understanding is that the fine kicks in based on fleet averages, not individual models. One of the advantages Hummer has in being part of GM is that I believe they also have been able to avoid the fines in recent times. I'm not sure how BMW, Mercedes and others allocate the fines amongst their various models. An older list of fines collected through 2004 is here: http://www.nhtsa.gov/cars/rules/CAFE/FINES-COLLECTED-SUMMARY.html Interestingly enough, Jaguar and Volvo are both on that list pre-Ford purchase, but not after. GM and Ford never show up on it.

  • MaxHedrm MaxHedrm on Jan 01, 2008
    jthorner: I am pretty sure the gas guzzler tax is separate from the fines. borderinsane: Interesting idea, but I don't see states going through the extra paper work to do that at registration time. If you want a punitive fuel tax, put it on the fuel. What if someone owns a trailer queen Ferrari, that they just take to track events. For the 500 miles they put on it, they would be getting way less than what the sticker says for mpg. On the other end, you punish people that actually maintain their cars and drive sensibly to consume less gas, the same as those that carry around 500# of crap in the back seat and have all their tires under inflated by 10 PSI.
  • Borderinsane Borderinsane on Jan 01, 2008

    maxhedrm: The Province of Ontario already collects odometer readings when registering a vehicle or renewing license plates; so the renewal/registration software can do the calculation easily. Regarding putting the tax at the pump: Some studies suggest that fuel taxes move the cost of the tax to oil producers instead of consumers. A fee on fuel consumption levied on the drivers (vehicle consumers) will more likely be felt on vehicle producers than fuel suppliers.