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”.

  • RHD I wonder if these will be as easy to steal as so many other Kias are...
  • Zerog Isn't this the car that the self anointed AutoExtremist said would finally shut down Tesla AND the Prius?Just like his father - that Detroit bubble does him no good
  • Zerog When will the media admit that Mary Barra has simply been a disaster of a CEO, and "Dan the Man" Akerson is to blame?
  • Tassos When the Volt was on sale, it cost twice as much as the (better looking!) Chevy Cruze on which it was based. The interior of the Volt did not match that lofty price either. I like plug-in vehicles with a good Electric only range and no range anxiety. People with a 40 mile commute each way, if they were allowed to free charge at the office especially, could save some $ with the Volt, but not as much as to justify its lofty price.The 2nd gen VOlt was less nerdy looking than the 1st, but also even more similar to the new Cruze and indeed the Civic, which cost almost HALF. Then the geniuses at GM made a 2-door Caddy out of the Volt, the ELR, which was much smaller inside than the already cramped Volt, and... asked for... 4 times the price of the CRUZE. Don't remember the failed Caddy Cimarron? Neither did those morons.So a good idea in principle was screwed beyond recognition. GM Bled billions despite the lofty price, sold a bunch of VOlts, and finally had to cry "UNCLE". The end.I am not at all attracted by the VOlt's lousy interior. Its gas only MPG is also lousy compared to the ICE competition. A prius was 50% cheaper and far more sophisticated mechanically and got a stellar 50 MPG overall, and could be had in plugin with 10-20 mile range (the current one will double that again).
  • Buickman GM marketing killed many a car.