Obama Will Take Away Your Porsche

Bertel Schmitt
by Bertel Schmitt

In a few years, by 2016 to be exact, P.J. O’Rourke’s “ass-engined Nazi slot car” may be history in the U.S.A. Gone. By that time, Porsche needs to have a Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) of 41.4 mpg – if President Obama gets his wish. Mission impossible, says Porsche. Jack Baruth, stock up. Porsches will be extinct.

On May 19, 2009 President Barack Obama proposed a new national fuel economy program. If signed into law in May this year, as currently planned, the law will throw a nasty punch, beginning in the model year 2012.

Porsche-Lobbyist Stefan Schläfli talked to the German Edition of the Financial Times, before taking off for Washington for a last ditch effort to save the endangered species. Says the FTD: “Hardest hit will be German producers of premium brands which sell big-engined large cars. Critics in the German camp don’t think this is a coincidence. The formulas used to calculate the maximum permissible values are tailor-made for U.S. manufacturers. Basis for the calculation will be wheel base and track width – highly unusual criteria.”

A short and compact Porsche is faced with much stricter limits than a Corvette. Not to mention a pick-up. Large manufacturers turn into a CAFE-society, and can offset their thirsty oinkers with smaller cars. Porsche doesn’t have that option. Neither does Aston Martin, Jaguar, Land Rover and other eclectic brands.

Being part of Volkswagen won’t help Porsche. According to the proposed law, Porsche would have had to be under Volkswagen’s umbrella in the year 2009. They weren’t. The FTD reckons that Volkswagen may have to contend with problems of its own anyway. Strong U.S. sales of the Touareg, the Audi A8 or Q7 may make for very bitter CAFE.

To avoid immediate execution in 2012, Porsche received a stay in form of a special dispensation. The pardon expires in the 2016 model year.

Porsche (and many other makers, such as Mercedes) already pay for the thirst of their cars. Currently, the fee is a few hundred dollars per car, says the FTD. The new law sets $37,500 as a maximum penalty – per car. “We can’t afford that,” says Porsche’s Schläfli.

Catching up with the new rules by 2016 would mean that Porsche has to improve their current average fleet economy of 27 mpg by 14.4 miles. “Technically impossible,” says Schläfli.

Unless the new CAFE law will fail at the last minute, the vehicular landscape in the U.S. will become quite boring in a few years.

Have any German or British Foreign Ministers complained, like Hillary Clinton over 4200 American cars to Japan? Have European politicians proposed WTO action like Betty Sutton? Any trade wars threatened for the removal of Europe’s finest cars from American roads? Boycotts of Burger King? Not a word. What’s with those Euros anyway? Whimps.

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3 of 59 comments
  • R H R H on Feb 23, 2010

    Perhaps porsche should give away free a $5k value 100 mpg scooter with purchase? If their cars get 20mpg average, doesn't this make the "purchase" 60mpg ? On a more serious note -- I hope we don't end up with [s]import[/s] pollution taxes like import taxes are in Brazil. 165,000 local currency for a Tribeca, and about 140,000 local currenty for a WRX. I think the STi is 220,000 there... But hey, locally built 1.0L sub 100hp vehicles are normal price at least.

    • Hakata Hakata on Feb 23, 2010

      Those taxes are just thinly veiled protectionism. Hey...

  • Cyclone66 Cyclone66 on Feb 25, 2010

    To all of you who think the Government will not stick to these rules in 2016 for German brands like Porsche and BMW get a Clue! Sorry but these Cafe standards are coming and if the American companies have to meet them wile selling Pick Up trucks (the most popular segment of vehicles in the county) then the German companies will have to meet them as well. Besides the US government can just tell people to buy a Cadillac, Lincoln or Chrysler instead and do something the American economy for a change. Hell that’s a win win situation. You don’t have a repair nightmare on your hands, company meets the Cafe standards, you helped keep a fellow American employed and you finally get to sit down with you analyst and say “ I think I made a great stride in getting rid of the narrow minded selfish behavior in my life”.

  • Frank Wait until the gov't subsidies end, you aint seen nothing yet. Ive been "on the floor" when they pulled them for fuel efficient vehicles back during/after the recession and the sales of those cars stopped dead in their tracks
  • Vulpine The issue is really stupidly simple; both names can be taken the wrong way by those who enjoy abusing language. Implying a certain piece of anatomy is a sign of juvenile idiocy which is what triggered the original name-change. The problem was not caused by the company but rather by those who continuously ridiculed the original name for the purpose of VERY low-brow humor.
  • Sgeffe There's someone around where I live who has a recent WRX-STi, but the few times I've been behind this guy, he's always driving right at the underposted arbitrary numbers that some politician pulled out of their backside and slapped on a sign! With no gendarmes or schoolkids present! Haven't been behind this driver on the freeway, but my guess is that he does the left lane police thing with the best of 'em!What's the point of buying such a vehicle if you're never going to exceed a speed limit? (And I've pondered that whilst in line in the left lane at 63mph behind a couple of Accord V6s, as well as an AMG E-Klasse!)
  • Mebgardner I'm not the market for a malleable Tuner / Track model, so I dont know: If you are considering a purchase of one of these, do you consider the Insurance Cost Of Ownership aspect? Or just screw it, I'm gonna buy it no matter.The WRX is at the top of the Insurance Cost pole for tuner models, is why I ask.
  • Mebgardner Wishing for the day of open source software in EVs, including the OS. Lets have some transparency in the algorithms and controls. No Fair data hoovering my phone when connected.I'm also wondering at the level of CANBus components in this vehicle.