By on May 20, 2015

White House 2025 54.5 MPG Graphic

Per a new study by the Consumer Federation of America, U.S. average new-car fuel efficiency is well on its way to hitting the 54.5-mpg target set for 2025.

The study looked over 1,163 new models, finding those rated at 23 mpg and above by the EPA gained a couple of percentage points between 2014 and 2015, rising from 50.5 percent to 52 percent of overall new-car sales, Edmunds reports. Meanwhile, those averaging 16 mpg and below declined from 8.5 percent of sales last year, to 6.1 percent this year.

Taking the 2015 podium for complying with the fuel economy standards among their fleets, Honda held onto its gold with 57 percent over 2014’s 51 percent, while Volvo jumped from having no models in compliance to 29 percent. Mercedes took home the bronze by increasing fleet compliance to 18 percent of its models, compared to 12 percent last year.

On the other end, the CFA found a few automakers lost their footing in compliance, with Kia and Subaru making the biggest drops (18 percent and 48 percent respectively in 2015, 40 percent and 75 percent in 2014), and General Motors falling eight percentage points to 19 percent.

The group notes this is due to a boom in new truck and SUV sales, which made up half of all new-vehicle sales for the 2015 model year. Overall compliance remained stable (53 percent this year compared to 58 percent last year), while compliance rates among trucks and SUVs fell from 80 percent to 35 percent.

Despite the few stumbling blocks, CFA’s automotive expert, Jack Gillis, says the industry can achieve the 2025 CAFE target, a standards representing “a historic consensus that brought together automakers, labor unions, consumer organizations and environmental groups to benefit our national and economic security, the environment and consumers through reduced fuel consumption and more vehicle choices.”

[Image credit: WhiteHouse.gov]

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43 Comments on “Study: 2025 54.5 MPG CAFE Target Within Reach...”


  • avatar
    Pebble

    54.5 MPG? F U buddy; I want a gas sucking pig, a ’59 Imperial or some such monstrosity so I can tell all the Prius drivers I get 8 MPG. All the fuel they save can be diverted to me.

  • avatar
    Hummer

    Maybe I haven’t seen it posted, or forgot, but with all the loopholes in this compliance, where do all the automakers stand as far as fleet MPG, with all the loopholes added in of course.

    At the end of the day, this is completely unnecessary as it hurts consumers more than it helps the nation as a whole with energy independence. Everyone wants to point out how we have so many high powered cars that Cafe couldn’t be the problem. Unfortunately these same individuals ignore the high costs of those cars, poor design language that has plagued all vehicles as of recent; and most importantly presence that used to command certain cars attention.

  • avatar
    See 7 up

    Mazda deserves the accolades. Even though they decreased from 2014, their 2015 compliance numbers are still over 30% better than Honda.
    All while being fun to drive.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      Mazda sells so few cars that they affect the actual fleet average not a bit.

      • 0 avatar
        See 7 up

        Sure but the way I understood it the study was done within the fleet of a single automaker, not an automakers total contribution to the whole. And in the linked study Mazda is bested by only tesla.

        But the study also makes comments like this
        “The fact that the number of cars getting over 23 mpg has risen by almost 40% in the last ten years is strong evidence that a reaching the goal of 54.5 by 2025 is indeed achievable”

        To me that is ridilous. Making, a cuv go from say 22 mpg to 33 mpg is completely different than hitting 54+ (realizing it doesn’t have to actually hit the #)
        Electrification is the only way.

        • 0 avatar
          thornmark

          Mazda sells few suvs. And its sedans have no 6 cylinder engines.

          In actual real world driving Mazda’s mpg numbers tend to do worse than epa est while Honda’s do better.

          The Accord 4 cylinder is not only faster than the 6, it also tends to get better mpg.

          • 0 avatar
            rpn453

            “In actual real world driving Mazda’s mpg numbers tend to do worse than epa est while Honda’s do better.”

            I hadn’t noticed that. What’s your source?

            In Car and Driver’s last compact car comparison, the Mazda3 (EPA 30/41) beat the Honda Civic (30/39), 29 mpg to 28 mpg, for their 800 mile trip. When they compared an Accord (27/36) to a Mazda6 (26/38) recently, they tied at 28 mpg during another 800 mile trip. The Mazdas were faster in both tests. The Accord only lagged the 6 by 0.4 seconds in the 0-60 (7.4 vs. 7.0) and 0.3 seconds in the quarter (15.9 vs. 15.6), but the Civic was much slower than the 3: 8.8 and 17.0 vs. 7.6 and 15.9. Unfortunately, those were all automatics. Is it the manual Accord that’s faster than the manual 6?

            Edit: Wow, it is. 6.6 and 15.2 for the manual Accord, vs. 7.9 and 16.1 for the manual 6, during separate tests. The manual 6 is even slower than the automatic Accord! The lower gears must be excessively tall. Second gear for my Mazda3 is terrible in that regard.

            I’ve averaged 29 mpg with my Mazda3 since I bought it new in 2004. Probably 2/3 highway. Best tank: 38. Worst tank: 22. EPA estimates are 22/29.

          • 0 avatar
            redav

            “In actual real world driving Mazda’s mpg numbers tend to do worse than epa est while Honda’s do better.”

            A quick check of Fuelly indicates your statement is not correct. Similarly, CR & other magazines’ mpg tests come out quite favorably for Mazda’s SkyActiv models.

          • 0 avatar
            mike978

            TM – Crap. Mazda real world fuel economy on like for like cars (Civic vs 3 and Accord vs 6) is at least as good as the Honda model. Look at fuelly as a source.
            You lambast domestic manufacturers – fine. you like Japanese manufacturers, but now you are trying to make it out that only Honda is the source of true engineering ability. Mazda has serious engineering credibility that only a zealot would deny.

  • avatar
    sirwired

    It’d be nice if the CAFE targets could use the current version of the EPA standards instead. (And of course adjust the targets themselves at the same time to make them realistic.) It sure is awful confusing to have the CAFE and EPA standards separate.

    (And, while they are at it, adjust the CAFE guidelines so that vehicles that most definitely are not trucks get classified as cars. I remember that the PT Cruiser, despite being rather obviously not a truck, was classified as such under CAFE. Oh, and stop penalizing station wagons; not that that would really help wagons much, but it’d still be nice.)

  • avatar
    Truckducken

    Say, given all the adjustments and credits that will go into achieving this figure, does anyone have any idea what true combined MPG the average gas vehicle must achieve for this target to be met? My guess is low 30’s, but perhaps an expert can weigh in. It would appear, for starters, that “CAFE mileage” is significantly higher than what you see on your window sticker – like 30% higher. I think it’s a safe bet that few of us will see 54.5 mpg in practice!

    • 0 avatar
      Pch101

      http://www.popularmechanics.com/cars/a7174/obamas-fuel-economy-rules-why-54-5-mpg-doesnt-really-mean-54-5/

      54 is the new 40.

      • 0 avatar
        SCE to AUX

        Yes, but that still means mfrs need to improve fuel economy by around 4% annually to reach the 2025 target – roughly a 50% increase by then.

        Maybe they can just pull the mythical 100-mpg carburetor off the shelf and be done with it!

        Thanks for the link, by the way.

        • 0 avatar
          Pch101

          The 54.5 (40) figure is an industry-wide target. It won’t be necessary for each individual automaker to achieve it.

          I believe what we’ll find is that 54.5 is about 40, which is ultimately something less than 40 for some automakers because those automakers that produce more of the gas guzzlers will be balanced out by those who make fewer of them.

          If it wasn’t achievable, the industry would not have agreed to it. The rules were negotiated, and it’s the details that define the elements of compliance that count.

    • 0 avatar
      redav

      I recall seeing that CAFE is roughly 20% higher than EPA hwy numbers, so cars with EPA hwy numbers of 45 mpg would be the minimum target. I think that puts the combined somewhere in the mid-to-high 30s.

      It would seem one advancement of the magnitude of direct injection would get us there.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    The only way to achieve this target is to electrify the fleet, either via hybrids or pure EVs. Pure EVs are getting 80-120 MPGe already.

    For starters, the popular CUV class needs to get out of the 21/28 mpg doldrums, and go hybrid as the next-gen RAV4 is doing. Minivans are in a similar pinch, and FCA is boldly adding a plug-in option soon to the T&C.

    Hybrid is probably the only way to go with trucks, unless small diesels like the FCA 3.0 Ecodiesel take hold. But when you hybridize a truck, don’t do it like the awful GM trucks which only managed 20 mpg and cost $50k at the time.

    The technology exists to do these things well.

    Hydrogen is a bad joke from many perspectives, and it doesn’t have the runway to make a difference in only 10 years.

    • 0 avatar
      redav

      Excellent points. Another is reduced weight. I expect to see much more use of alternative materials and new manufacturing techniques.

      I don’t know exactly how to fix trucks’ mpg without simply going smaller, lower, & less capable. I don’t know why hybrids have been so seemingly hard to do in trucks.

  • avatar
    jacob_coulter

    Does a single vehicle in the US that is not a hybrid hit the target of 54.5 mpg combined city and highway? I’d love to know those models.

    To think this will be the AVERAGE for new cars in the US in around 9 years is pure fantasy.

    And if the only way to reach this goal is all sorts of loopholes and 54.5mpg is just a pretend number, why not instead have a more honest figure and goal?

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      The problem is that the CAFE standards were based on the original EPA stickers from the 70s which have been adjusted twice to compensate for the real world and the fact that speed limits are higher than they were when CAFE was originally implemented. I think the gov’t feels they are in a catch 22 situation, if they align the CAFE numbers with the EPA numbers on the sticker they would have to adjust the CAFE numbers down so it would look like they are getting soft to the tree huggers. Put the EPA numbers back to what they were originally and the numbers on the sticker don’t come close to the real world angering customers. Then you do have the credits like for FFVs which get a boost in their CAFE number, start stop which is another credit and the real result of a car that would do 54.5 in the CAFE test could be as low as in the mid to upper 30’s combined.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        In part, these outcomes are the result of the agencies trying to comply with the mandates of the Congress and the White House.

        So if the president says that Thou Shalt Average 54.5, there isn’t anything that the agencies can do about it. What the agencies can do is to define exactly what that means so that they can comply with the requirement.

        The system also provides incentives to modify behavior. What the new CAFE really does is to encourage technological improvements across the spectrum. The old CAFE just encouraged Detroit to dump smaller vehicles into fleets to make up for the gas guzzlers that they continued to build.

    • 0 avatar
      SunnyvaleCA

      >>> Does a single vehicle in the US that is not a hybrid hit the target of 54.5 mpg <<<

      The pure electric cars do! (Well, at least as far as CAFE credits go, they do.) But of course this is your point… other than a few fringe cars, almost nothing is honestly hitting that value in the real world. Putting aside electrics and plug-ins, I would venture that there is only one car: the Prius C. I've driven one a few hundred miles and thought that it really was OK; I indeed averaged over 55 MPG with mixed driving and highway cruising at 70 MPH.

      That the median car scores 23 MPG on the EPA test is pretty sad, though. 23 MPG certainly doesn't require amazing technological expertise… just use modern, basic design on a car with the weight / size / power that was common even in the 1990s.

      • 0 avatar
        jacob_coulter

        The problem is all sorts of mandated safety and crash standards have pushed up vehicle weights.

        A 1985 Ford Escort gets almost the same mpgs as a 2015 Fiesta (today’s Escort) That’s 30 years of technology.

        1985 Escort 33mpg combined (1.6L 4 speed)
        2015 Fiesta 29mpg combined (1.6L 6 speed)

        fueleconomy.gov

        So even tiny subcompacts aren’t even close to hitting anywhere near 54.5mpg or even real world 40mpgs

        But no worries, the people making this ridiculous law will be long gone and someone else will get blamed when it has to be reformed.

        • 0 avatar
          SCE to AUX

          As for MPG, you are correct.

          But the 15 Fiesta will dust the 85 Escort in all performance measures, not the least of which is pollution emissions.

          The ‘mandated’ safety standards aren’t just Big Brother policies; consumers want safety, too. After all, the Perception of Safety is what sells Subarus these days, not to mention AWD in general. AWD has a significant weight penalty.

          NVH improvements play a role in vehicle weight, too. I don’t want a buzzbox from 1985 any longer, but that has a weight penalty.

          The automatic transmission adds at least 100 lbs to nearly every car, vs the manual transmission nobody buys.

          Lastly, consumers want power everything. Just try selling a car without power windows, power locks, powered sunroof, A/C, accent lights, or a 600W 10-speaker entertainment system.

          The deathtrap buzzbox car that gets 54 mpg isn’t hard to do – Geo Metros and Civic FEs did that 20-30 years ago. It’s getting these cars to meet consumer demands of the 21st century that is hard to do.

          • 0 avatar
            jacob_coulter

            My point is all sorts of of competing laws are canceling each other out and something is going to have to give.

            I just don’t see a plausible path to the 54.5mpg (or whatever you want to call it) unless nearly every new car made is a hybrid or electric. And even then I’m not sure you’ll be able to hit those numbers.

            And don’t even think about something like a sports car or a family sedan with something as “decadent” as a V6.

            The idea that this is “in reach” is absurd unless you’re counting on every car to be some sort of permutation of a downsized Prius.

            I know some people LOVE that idea but most car enthusiasts are not going to like the idea of every car being a street legal golf cart.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            54.5 is not 54.5.

    • 0 avatar
      redav

      “Does a single vehicle in the US that is not a hybrid hit the target of 54.5 mpg combined city and highway?”

      Since CAFE isn’t the same as EPA, it’s tough to tell. I believe the current crop of 40 mpg hwy compact cars are close, i.e., within 10% of the target.

  • avatar
    Rasputin

    Ah – Freedom of choice.
    Nothing better than the freedom of being an American citizen.

  • avatar
    ilkhan

    Family will save $8200 at the pump, pay an extra $12,000 at the dealer.

  • avatar
    Rday

    If the government is serious about this then they need to tax the older vehicles so that it is not feasable to keep them running. Japan does this and possibly other countries too. Hate to let the gov take more money but new cars/trucks are inherently safer, more economical, less polluting etc. I have seen many vehicles that are unsafe and never should be on the road,

    • 0 avatar
      redav

      I can see a ‘classic car’ tax. But I can also see a cash for clunkers type incentive.

      But more importantly, I would like to see something done about housing/building energy consumption, because that has a huge effect on the nation’s energy consumption. If we could drop electricity usage, we could divert the natural gas for vehicles.

    • 0 avatar
      Duaney

      More big government is not needed. Natural vehicle attrition takes car of old models.

    • 0 avatar
      smartascii

      From a purely logical perspective, this would indeed lower average fleet consumption. But all those other countries you’re talking about have functional public transit nationwide and social safety nets to stop you from becoming so poor that you can’t afford to get a job. In the US, though, there are a lot of people who can’t afford to purchase a new(er) car, and also can’t get to work without any car at all. Adding a tax to their old clunkers isn’t going to cause them to go out and buy a newer car. It’s just going to turn the serviceable car they had into junkyard fodder and destroy them financially. So I don’t think it’s a good idea.

  • avatar
    OneAlpha

    The only way a 54.5 MPG average is happening is if everyone starts riding motorcycles and driving late-80s Japanese kei cars with modern engines swapped into them.

    Otherwise, it’s a pipe (as in bong) dream.

  • avatar
    Duaney

    Not mentioned in all the comments is what will the death and injury rate be when we all drive tiny micro cars? Will the increased MPG be worth the loss of life? Will Obama take credit for the slaughter?

    • 0 avatar
      rpn453

      The best case scenario for safety would involve everyone driving vehicles of the same mass and bumper height, regardless of size.

      I’d rather be in a head-on highway collision between two modern subcompacts than between two modern 1-ton trucks.

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