By on November 16, 2011

Over the last few days we’ve been discussing the implications of the growing gap between global oil demand and production, looking at the responses of a global automakera radical startup and the oil industry itself. And make no mistake, it’s an uncertain future out there… unless you’re selling cars in the US. In that case, your future just arrived, planned all the way through 2025. That is, if you think this proposed rule will survive four presidential elections and one industry-government “mid-term review.” Want to familiarize yourself with this pre-planned fuel economy future? All 893 pages await your perusal, in PDF format here. Or, hit the jump for a few broad strokes.



So, what does this mean for specific classes of cars? According to an EPA factsheet (PDF here), this is how cars in the year 2025 will have to perform:How about trucks?

 Now that may seems scary, but you have to remember that these numbers are not comparable to the EPA’s “window sticker” numbers. For inexplicable reasons, probably having to do with the political benefits to both industry and politicians of making the number seem higher than it is, NHTSA’s CAFE fuel economy uses a different test than the EPA. Edmunds Autoobservercovered this issue well a few years back, but the upshot is that a 2025 full-size pickup will be required to get a window sticker of around 25 MPG combined, not 33 MPG. Still tough, but considering that full-sizers are getting over 20 MPG on the freeway already, this does not seem like a hill that can’t be climbed in a decade or so. Especially when you can slap a hybrid drivetrain in there and get a 20 grams of CO2 per mile credit.

Of course these standards will cost consumers. The EPA estimates that the proposed rule will add some $2,000 to the price of each vehicle on average, but insists

Those consumers who drive their MY 2025 vehicle for its entire lifetime will save, on average, $5200 to $66003 (7 and 3 percent discount rates, respectively) in fuel savings, for a net lifetime savings of $3000 to 44004 — assuming gasoline prices remain at essentially current levels.  For those consumers who purchase their new MY 2025 vehicle with cash, the discounted fuel savings will offset the higher vehicle cost in less than 4 years, and fuel savings will continue for as long as the consumer owns the vehicle.

Of course if gas prices aren’t kind enough to “remain at essentially current levels,” those fuel savings could be wiped out… but then, if gas prices rise too precipitously, this entire rule could become moot. The future is notoriously resistant to our mortal plans…

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23 Comments on “EPA Releases 2017-2025 CAFE Proposed Rule...”

  • avatar

    Another example of the geniuses in government mandating the impossible.

  • avatar

    Yes, it’s certainly impossible. Just like the emissions controls instituted a few decades ago. Today the cars that meet even tougher standards are just pure junk that can barely get out of their own way. Oh wait. I mean they can leave muscle cars from the 60s in the dust, in a straight line or a curvy road. And I suspect this will also work out pretty much the same, after some bitching and moaning by some car companies.

    • 0 avatar

      So, a Honda Fit type of car that barely makes 30 mpg now in real world driving will by ’25 aided by some inexpensive miracles make 61.1? Wind power? Why not 62.15, BTW?
      They will have to change their math considerably, to make it work.
      But, yes, why not? EPA certainly knows. Let’s dream on and discuss this issue again in 2025.

      • 0 avatar

        Herb, the CAFE numbers are different from the window sticker numbers, as mentioned in the article.

        The Honda Fit window sticker numbers are at best 28/35/31 mpg (city/highway/combined), while the CAFE numbers are 37/52/43 mpg. The required mpg improvement is therefore 42% (61 vs 43 mpg) over a 14-year period; i.e., 3% per annum on average. The required reduction in fuel consumption is 30%.

      • 0 avatar

        the CAFE numbers for the Fit seems to match the EU cycle (44mpg mixed for a 1.2v 90 hp, manual) While the hybrid (that you can’t buy stateside) gets 53mpg. If someone struggles to get 30mpg out of a Jazz, they should consider using some of the other 4 gears instead of just 1st , or just get a bike…
        Diesel cars in it’s class (with matching horsepower, but twice the torque) do 50mpg on a regular basis.

    • 0 avatar

      I could not agree more. No question there are political factors in play, but no intellectually honest, rational person can assert that we were better off in the “old days”. Cars are better in every way in terms of efficiency, performance, safety, and emissions than they were even 10 years ago, largely due to progressively tightening regulations. I’m 39 and distinctly remember how hard it was to breathe in So. Cal. the first time the family travelled there in the late 70s (I think ’78); the odor of unburned hydrocarbons was pretty overwhelming for a little guy with asthma and I remember how disappointed my mom was that she never got her pic of the “Hollywood” sign because of the haze in the air.

      I really don’t understand the fascination with “nostalgia”. Hybrid drivetrains and DSG transmissions are to big block 350s and “three on the tree” just as integrated circuits and internet streaming are to vacuum tubes and cassettes. No one who owns a plasma TV yearns for the “old days” of pulling tubes and checking them at the local drug store, so why are car guys such luddites?

  • avatar

    “For inexplicable reasons, probably having to do with the political benefits to both industry and politicians of making the number seem higher than it is, NHTSA’s CAFE fuel economy uses a different test than the EPA.”

    I think that is a mischaracterization. The test used is exactly the same. The problem is the test has nothing to do with real world conditions, which rarely involve an indoor dyno room or a duty cycle of imperceptibly gradual accelerations and low speeds. Thirty years ago, the market cared about fuel economy and the EPA numbers on the window stickers were the results of the EPA tests. This angered the populace, who didn’t like buying ’41 mpg’ subcompacts that struggled to ever hit 31 mpg. The government’s solution was to artificially lower the published figures to reflect a wild-a$$ed-guess at the discrepency between the EPA test regiment and average use by consumers. The test itself can never change because of CAFE. CAFE laws are all based on the EPA’s city and highway lab test, and the legislation would need a complete overhaul to align it with anything useful. The totalitarians can’t overhaul it because someone might rightly challenge the legitimacy of the government perverting markets and turning all Americans into liars and idiots.

    • 0 avatar

      More heat than light!

      The CAFE and window sticker tests and numbers were one and the same when the system was established back in the 70s. Traffic patterns, speed limits and driving behavior changed since then; along with increased air conditioning use, which was not part of the original tests. This resulted in the numbers deviating more and more over time from the experience of the average driver.

      The window sticker numbers were adjusted subsequently to bring them closer to the “real world” averages. In 2008, additional tests were added for the window sticker numbers. They included higher speeds and acceleration, air conditioner use and colder outside temperatures. CAFE continues to use the original tests with no adjustments.

      CAFE is geared towards targeted reductions in fleet-wide average fuel consumption (rather than informing the public about individual vehicles) so it’s not all that important to change the tests. The absolute numbers don’t matter much as long as the tests are done consistently to capture accurately reductions in fleet-wide fuel consumption.

      • 0 avatar

        CAFE didn’t reflect actual driving any better in 1970 than it does today.

        Because the CAFE test procedure wasn’t designed to measure mileage. The EPA took an existing test for smog compliance at various throttle conditions and copied it verbatim right down to the measurement being taken at the tail pipe instead of the fuel line. (With an expensive gas analysis machine instead of a cheap flow meter.)

        The results of this hadn’t the slightest resemblance to actual driving, of course, so for the window sticker figure the EPA dropped their measured results by an arbitrary factor. That still didn’t resemble actual driving so in 1984 they increased the arbitrary figure even more. That didn’t do it either, so in 2008 they took some additional smog tests – driving at 20 below, jackrabbit stop and go from 0-80, etc. – and mixed those in with further arbitrary correction factors. With the new sticker being gamed just like the old one was, look for a new round of arbitrary adjustment any year now.

        In short the numbers are garbage based on garbage and the rational response would be to junk the entire law.

      • 0 avatar

        For the record, nuvista is revising history. I don’t think conscientious people do so intentionally. aspade is pretty accurate. The city and highway tests don’t have anything to do with real world conditions experienced at any time during their existence. The numbers returned were never meaningful. Their usefulness for comparison ceased to exist when carmakers learned to game engine and transmission management for the purpose of minimizing consumption within the silly parameters of the test cycle AT THE EXPENSE OF REAL WORLD PERFORMANCE AND EFFICIENCY. Anyone curious should spend some time looking at the test cycles, which are available here:

        Ask yourself: do you ever accelerate to highway speeds in less than 29 seconds? The new tests may be infinitessimally closer to real world than the old ones, but they don’t have any impact on CAFE compliance. Which tests will the drivetrain teams focus on as CAFE ratchets up? That’s right, the arbitrary ones that require crazy tall gearing, early upshifts and open throttles at low engine speeds. The choices that conspire to make drivability miserable and lead people to floor their cars every time they want to accelerate or maintain pace on a hill. Yippee. But do you get better mileage in exchange for crummy performance and miserable throttle and transmission response? Of course not. Performance and efficiency are maximized when transmissions are tuned to engine characteristics, not to a crazy fictional dyno program.

      • 0 avatar

        For the record, nuvista is revising history.

        What are the factual errors in what I wrote?

        The new tests may be infinitessimally closer to real world than the old ones

        What is the typical variance between the EPA window sticker numbers and the average real-world mileage experienced by large numbers of drivers?

        Which tests will the drivetrain teams focus on as CAFE ratchets up? That’s right, the arbitrary ones that require crazy tall gearing, early upshifts and open throttles at low engine speeds.

        The CAFE tests do not require tall gearing, early upshifts or open throttles at low engines speeds. Those are things that some manufacturers may choose to do in order to improve their test results. Regardless of the test, whether in a lab or out in the real world, manufacturers will do whatever they can to get the best results.

        Manufacturers who elect to game the system at the expense of driveability will lose out to those who use superior technology instead.

  • avatar

    Boy the EPA must have a bunch of fairy dust to hand out to the auto makers, LOL. My vision for 2025 is NO GAS, yep we ran out! Long live the golf cart!

  • avatar

    We may have to go back to lt duty trucks with 150hp.. oh the horror!

  • avatar

    Cars have been getting 30 mpg for a long, long time. My old ’72 Triumph TR-6 with overdrive and a bog-primitive cast-iron lump under the hood did that. And there are a number of conventional cars today that get 40 mpg ratings. I’m afraid I just don’t buy the idea that it can’t be done because “it’s too hard (boo-hoo).” I’ve heard that one before.

    Not that it’s likely these numbers will ever actually be required.

  • avatar

    What about the growing gap between the CAFE standards for cars and light trucks? We start out in 2016 with a difference of 9 MPG, but end in 2025 with a 15.7 MPG gap. The requirement for both cars and light trucks should be the same.

    In the alternative, raise the gas tax sky-high, which would also encourage people with older, less efficient vehicles to upgrade to a more fuel efficient vehicle.

    • 0 avatar

      In the alternative, raise the gas tax sky-high, which would also encourage people with older, less efficient vehicles to run you out of D.C. on a rail

      Fixed that for ya. Raising the gas tax is a non-starter: Republicans don’t like it because it’s a tax, Democrats don’t like it because it’s a regressive tax, and normal people don’t like it because it makes gas prices go up, and they would prefer that gas prices go down. Also note that people with older, less efficient vehicles probably have them because they can’t afford to just go and buy a new car.

  • avatar

    I’m so tired of CAFE standards

    Forcing automakers to make what people don’t want. Gas is just too cheap so most people will buy the biggest vehicle they can afford to drive.

    Increasing the mileage just keeps them in huge vehicles.

    When are politicians going to have the balls to pass a real gas tax? Just do it and get it over with, it’s something that will have to be done eventually.

    That’s really the only way to get the average fuel mileage up a decent amount. Everyone knows it and no one has the guts to do it.

    • 0 avatar

      Actually, the data shows that the fleet-wide average mpg increased to meet or exceed the CAFE standards.

      – The passenger car CAFE standard increased from 18.0 in 1978 to 22.0 in 1981. The passenger car fleet average increased from 19.9 to 25.9

      – The combined (passenger cars plus light trucks) CAFE standard increased from 17.5 in 1982 to 20.5 in 1987. The fleet average increased from 25.1 to 26.2.

      – The combined CAFE standard then stagnated in the 20.0-20.7 range from 1988 to 2004. The fleet average regressed from 26.0 to 24.6.

      – The combined CAFE standard increased from 21.0 in 2005 to 23.5 in 2010. The fleet average increased from 25.4 to 29.2.

      The problem I see is that the CAFE standards were not aggressive enough and were kept at essentially the same level for nearly two decaades, from 1987 to 2004. The lack of increasingly more demanding CAFE standards during that period allowed the explosion of SUVs.

      • 0 avatar

        nuvista, I think you are right. If the standards had risen at a reasonable rate and the automakers had behaved responsibly, the new proposed standards would not seem like such a leap.

  • avatar
    Carlson Fan

    @daveinchina – Agreed! Heavily taxed gas will grow alternative energy vehicles. In the end it will push the US away from imported oil and get us energy dependent.

    • 0 avatar

      If that’s the case, then why does Europe still import lots of oil, and why isn’t it any further ahead than we are in the development of alternative energy vehicles? Gasoline has been heavily taxed there for decades.

  • avatar

    So with the references to g/mi and MPG in 2025, it looks like the EPA is assuming that no matter who the president is, no president will have the balls to continue with full metrication in the US? (We don’t need none of them commie base 10 units of measure!)

    Anyway, I sure hope this means more diesel options. But of course when the EPA has their say, clean diesel just means more expensive emission components to break and lower economy. I’m sure the manufacturers will figure out ways to do it, but it’ll be interesting to see how they manage to do it. That is if any of these numbers are actually the same in 2025.

  • avatar

    I don’t know how you consider tough, but here are the numbers the way I see them.

    The best non-hybrid full size truck combined MPG is 19mpg. That is the V6 Ford F150 3.7L. Best V8, GM 5.3 XFE with 18mpg combined.

    19mpg to 25mpg is a minimal of 32% overall improvement. 18mpg to 25mpg is a 39% improvement.

    My guess is that trucks are going to become a lot less capable in the next 10 years, be made of different materials, and all have hybrid technology. Will be interesting to see how much they cost, weigh, and tow in 10 years.

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