By on April 18, 2016

Chevy_Volt_EPA_Fuel_Economy_Official_Label

As regulatory bigwigs gear up for a midterm review of corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) requirements, will the 54.5 mpg target for light-duty vehicles get a haircut, or be deemed too  unambitious?

Under a 2012 agreement between the federal government and automakers, cars and light trucks will have until 2025 to meet the 54.5 mpg target, which works out to about 40 mpg on the window sticker (for cars) after you ditch the fancy math. That target isn’t set in stone, and the midterm review will take into account the state of the market — and existing technology — when it reviews its goals for the 2022-2025 period.

The first step of the review is the creation of a draft Technical Assessment Report (TAR), issued by the Environmental Protection Agency, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and California Air Resources Board. That’s underway now, with the TAR due to be released for public comment this June.

A final determination and ruling will occur no later than April 1, 2018.

Even if the CAFE target is trimmed, automakers will face difficult decisions over how to achieve it. Fuel economy savings can be wrung out of a vehicle in many ways — electrification, weight-reducing measures, engine and transmission technology, computing and aerodynamics — but each measure comes with an added cost.

Ford Motor Company CEO Mark Fields has said he wants the review to deal in hard facts, calling the process “challenging.”

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles CEO Sergio Marchionne said last year that he expects “a relaxation of the timeline,” due to the drop in oil and gas prices.

Despite the willingness of automakers to produce vehicles that achieve CAFE targets, high-mileage vehicles often fail to resonate with buyers (and not just hybrid vehicles, which have seen sales sink in recent years).

Last year, a study by the Consumer Federation of America concluded that the 2025 target was doable, given recent advances by automakers.

[Sources: Automotive News, Wall Street Journal]

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108 Comments on “Should 54.5 MPG Stay or Go? CAFE Crams for Midterms...”


  • avatar
    JustPassinThru

    Go.

    These regulations have no place in a free market. The choice of a personal-transportation device is between seller and buyer. Government diktats over specifics of non-safety-related performance, is nothing but nanny-state totalitarianism. Which soon becomes another sort of totalitarianism…as we are seeing.

    Already it’s distorting the market in terms of car designs. Seen the new little Japanese pickups? No, me neither. They cannot meet the fantasy standards for their weight class – so people who need vehicles with little boxes in back, have to buy six-door, $50,000 bro-dozers. Or else clapped-out used Frontiers.

    Nope. This is the attempt of ignorant bureaucrats to mandate physics and engineering. And that seldom goes well.

    • 0 avatar
      sirwired

      So why are safety-related regulations ok, but fuel-related regulations not? Why are you arguing that we shouldn’t be able to buy unsafe deathtraps, but that vehicles that suck down gas as through a firehose are just fine?

      I won’t argue that the CAFE regulations are well thought-out (the distortions they place on vehicle sizes so they end up in a more-advantageous class are ridiculous) but that’s primarily a result of the legislation the EPA is required to work within; not the fault of the EPA directly or the concept of fuel-economy regulations.

      • 0 avatar
        JustPassinThru

        Because there is public support for safety regulations. I personally don’t support them; but free-market liberties are a tough sell in this day and age. HOWEVER…once the regulators move away from, what they say is, trying to prevent your kids’ heads from getting busted open, to trying to **SAVE THE PLANET** by making sure you only use ONE gallon of gas every 50 miles, instead of one-and-one fifth gallon…

        …this when these Climate Summits in exotic locales involve fleets of huge jets, truckloads of Kobe beef, mostly all uneaten, the endless jet-crisscrossing of the nation to hector us to use less…as THEY use EXPONENTIALLY more…

        I have no time for this fraud. I wanna buy what I wanna buy. If you want to go to work on a bicycle, that’s your business. And if I want to buy a Japanese pickup that gets 28 miles a gallon, that’s no one else’s concern.

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          What make/model is that taillight of? Thanks.

        • 0 avatar
          ttacgreg

          ” I wanna buy what I wanna buy.”
          I so want to flame this comment, but I shall refrain.

          • 0 avatar
            JustPassinThru

            “” I wanna buy what I wanna buy.”
            I so want to flame this comment, but I shall refrain.”

            Yes. WTF business is it of YOURS, what I buy, with MY OWN money?

            YOU don’t have veto power over aspects of MY life. You think otherwise? Any law or regulation that gives you control over me, can soon be used to give OTHERS control OVER YOU.

            There are dozens of examples today, but they’re off topic. But I resent the HELL out of the implication that I MUST BUY A VEHICLE TO SATISFY, NOT MYSELF BUT YOU.

        • 0 avatar
          Vulpine

          Now here you have a point, JPT.
          “…this when these Climate Summits in exotic locales involve fleets of huge jets, truckloads of Kobe beef, mostly all uneaten, the endless jet-crisscrossing of the nation to hector us to use less…as THEY use EXPONENTIALLY more…”

          But then, they don’t necessarily use fleets of huge jets (It’s amazing how much fuel you save using a smaller jet), truckloads of Kobe beef (they tend to dine on relatively local cuisine), etc. However, grounding all civil aircraft would have a huge effect on both reducing fuel use and reducing the effects of Climate Change. We could see a 3°C drop in global temperatures in a matter of weeks if all those planes were grounded. Even if commercial flying were limited to ONLY overseas routes, the pollutants and fuel use could be cut by almost 50%

          Simply put, you need to take a much larger view of the issue than a mere political one.

          • 0 avatar
            JustPassinThru

            This IS a political matter.

            If it were a market matter, we’d just have choices at the dealerships.

            You don’t know what goes on at those summits. I’ve never been there either; but I’ve read plenty of accounts. Kinglike Heads of State do not travel by Beechcraft. And most of them have huge entourages.

            This discussion IS a political discussion. The question is not, is a high-mileage goal good. The question is, should these asinine regulations stay or go.

      • 0 avatar
        Vulpine

        There are faults to the CAFE regulations, though I support their purpose. Those regulations need to be made more specific not only to weight class but body style as well. Trying to ease the rules for larger vehicles has done nothing but make those vehicles (pickup trucks specifically) bigger and even more unsafe.

        Trucks that would have once been clearly obvious as medium-duty cargo vehicles are now treated as light-duty passenger vehicles despite their bloated size. The simplest fix would be to class all pickups separately from passenger vehicles *regardless of the number of seats* and any truck over 4500# curb weight as Class 4 or above. Each class of truck would have its own mileage goal from Class 1 being truly light duty with economy equivalent to a mid-sized sedan/CUV (call it 35mpg highway) to class 3 at 25mpg regardless of physical dimensions.

        I do agree also with the 54mpg goal because that will force most automakers to find alternative means for initial acceleration. Electric motors have demonstrated their ability to effectively double the mpg of hybrid cars in urban driving which puts that 54mpg in range of even the biggest pickup trucks (though highway mileage will suffer due to their poor aerodynamics.)

        • 0 avatar
          Drzhivago138

          Then that means new pickups will have to look more like the jellybean Fords in the ’90s. I don’t see a downside.

          • 0 avatar
            JustPassinThru

            How about, wasted space?

            How about, specialty trucks? How you gonna get a flatbed jellybean?

            Maybe a city delivery or work truck doesn’t NEED to be aerodynamic. Why would a plumber’s truck need to have a low drag coefficient?

            Is that not the buyer’s RIGHT, to decide what’s important to him?

            I guess not. I see I’m a lone voice here…and of course all the Daily Show addicts will be high-fiving this discussion…

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            They’ll also need to be smaller, Doc. Even a size change would have a huge effect on their aerodynamics.

          • 0 avatar
            JustPassinThru

            “They’ll also need to be smaller, Doc. Even a size change would have a huge effect on their aerodynamics.”

            Rigid regulations generally result in the OPPOSITE of the intended/purported outcome.

            The regulations for small vehicles are IMPOSSIBLE to meet for small trucks. Japanese trucks.

            The regulations for heavier, six-seat vehicles are more rooted in reality. So…big crew-cab bro-dozers still can meet the standards. Japanese-size trucks, even S-10-size trucks, cannot.

          • 0 avatar
            Drzhivago138

            @Vulpine:

            Besides in the front (making it a cabover, which wouldn’t go over well in the pickups-as-personal-transportation segment), where would it get smaller? Full-size pickups have been 78″+ wide for the past 50 years, and now they have to stay that way both for reasons of standardizing upfittings and fitting three across in the cab. Length couldn’t decrease behind the cab because the bed lengths have been standardized as well. Height could be decreased.

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            I wouldn’t be for smaller, jelly-bean lookalike vehicles.

            But that’s the trend these days, ever smaller sardine cans on wheels, powered by squirrel engines.

            Disgusting!

            Is it any wonder that four-door trucks and SUVs in all guises are the best-sellers in America?

          • 0 avatar
            Drzhivago138

            “ever smaller sardine cans”

            Which cars have gotten smaller? Which segments, even?

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            The choice of large cars diminished after the demise of the Crown Vic, et al.

            Four door pickup trucks took their place in the hierarchy of cars on the road in America because all that was offered to the buying public was smaller cars in its stead.

          • 0 avatar
            Drzhivago138

            You are absolutely correct, but you didn’t answer my question. By saying “ever smaller sardine cars,” you imply that the cars themselves are getting smaller with each generation. Which cars are these?

            If anything, compact cars have encroached on mid-size territory, and mid-size on full-size territory, because buyers are finding their own happy medium between efficiency/value and comfort.

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            ” By saying “ever smaller sardine cars,” you imply that the cars themselves are getting smaller”

            And that’s exactly what I mean to convey in the sense that what is offered to the buying public is ever smaller cars.

            They can jack up the size of the 2016 Corolla to be what the 1989 Camry was, but the choice in large four-door sedans, of the Crown Vic Class, is no more.

            So all we’re left with is ever-smaller cars.

            Hence, the popularity of large SUVs of the Suburban Class and large 4-door trucks of the F150 class.

          • 0 avatar
            Drzhivago138

            Once again, you are correct that Crown Vics are gone, but saying “ever-smaller” implies again that the cars are decreasing in size! Please, if you know they are getting smaller, show some numbers!

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            How about “physical size”? Would that work for you?

          • 0 avatar
            Drzhivago138

            Physical size? As in, how a Cruze is the size of the Celebrity, or the ’16 Corolla is the physical size of an ’89 Camry, as you pointed out?

            Just answer me straight: In your first comment, you mentioned “ever-smaller sardine cans[.]” But you still haven’t given any figures backing up your assertion that the cars are getting physically smaller. Why do you not do so?

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            ” But you still haven’t given any figures backing up your assertion that the cars are getting physically smaller. Why do you not do so?”

            Because it is a observation made by me and people like me who steer clear of these smaller vehicles and choose to buy the largest thing they can afford.

            Someone, like myself, who dates back to driving the ’49 Buick and other cars of the 50’s, 60’s, 70’s, 80’s and 90’s, have a totally different view of what cars were, are and will be in the future than someone born in the year 2000 who thinks that a Yaris is the biggest car they’ve ever seen.

            It’s all about our life experiences. Mine were with large, substantial cars. Not the miniaturized stuff, most of us are forced to drive today.

          • 0 avatar
            Drzhivago138

            Ah, so to be completely factually accurate while also staying true to your observations, it may have been better to say, “in the 1980s, the average car underwent a significant downsizing, which I believe may have been due to government regulations.”

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            Nope, I wrote what I wrote because that’s what I meant to say.

            You can interpret it any which way you want based on your own life-experiences and frame of reference.

            My reference to “large” cars is what is in my frame of reference. Cars today are much smaller than they used to be. I, for one, don’t think that is a good thing.

            Even the Suburban has been downsized from the ones I used to own. And what passes for Large today, like the Tahoe for instance, was a midsize not so long ago.

    • 0 avatar
      Drzhivago138

      Right, because everybody was clamoring to buy a 4×2 truck with a 6′ bed and a cab that could barely seat two Americans, and got the same MPG as a full-size.

      • 0 avatar
        JustPassinThru

        “Right, because everybody was clamoring to buy a 4×2 truck with a 6′ bed and a cab that could barely seat two Americans, and got the same MPG as a full-size.”

        You don’t want one.

        Fine, don’t BUY one.

        I’m not trying to force my choice onto you. Why are YOU trying to force YOUR preferences onto ME?

        • 0 avatar
          Drzhivago138

          Thank you for jumping to that conclusion; it really fosters open dialogue. I’m saying that there was just not enough demand for them, even without “muh gubmint regs.”

          What choice are you making, BTW?

          • 0 avatar
            JustPassinThru

            “What choice are you making, BTW?”

            There is nothing on the market that I want to buy right now. I have a seventeen-year-old Toyota truck; and for snow energencies, a Gen I RAV4. Both get close to 30 mpg.

            Both are paid for. I wouldn’t want a new 4×4, since I don’t need it that much; but I would LOVE to have a similarly-sized new Toyota or Nissan truck.

            Since you asked. The Nanny-State government-driven market, where products are demanded, not by consumers but by regulators who would never buy what they order others to so do…it does not meet my needs.

            Mine or many others. You ought to see the West Coast prices on Gen I Tacomas. There is a real, unmet demand there.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            “Thank you for jumping to that conclusion; it really fosters open dialogue. I’m saying that there was just not enough demand for them, even without “muh gubmint regs.””

            Actually, there was huge demand for them before regulations priced them out of the market. Not as popular as full-sized trucks, true; but also more popular than the station wagons of the day because they still offered a reasonably-sized open bed. Their fuel economy too, was better than the full-sized trucks despite your claim otherwise. The only factor that killed the import trucks was the simple fact that they were forced to sell near the same price as full-sized while US-designed mid-sized trucks could undercut them and roughly split the difference in size and capacities. THOSE lasted for another 25 years with their most recent iteration being built larger to accommodate the most recent and defective CAFE rules pertaining to ‘footprint’ and not weight.

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            Vulpine – Increasing vehicle’s “footprints” also increases “weight” by a similar factor. It doesn’t matter how you slice it, a much smaller truck should have much better fuel economy. It obviously doesn’t always work out that way, sorry to say.

            But by the time mini-truck “choices” were dwindling, all were made in the US, (except the Mighty Max) while labour costs in Japan were equalizing with the US.

            The Mitsu Might Max went on to ’96 and died from lack of sales, just like the others. Oh well, the trend was over. Same as parachute pantz, mullets, etc.

            The Ranger, Dakota and S10 also never undercut the price of the “import” pickups.
            The were all competitively priced.

            Truck makers increased the size of mini-trucks chasing the sales of fullsize trucks and SUV buyers also demanded “midsize” not compact SUVs. Guess how many midsize SUVs rode on pickup chassis’, and shared the platform?

            Besides, CAFE only initiated the “footprint” rule fairly recently and *after* mini-trucks had gone “midsize”

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            After about ’85 I never saw another Mitsubishi pickup on American shores outside of those people already owned. Granted, I was living in so-called ‘Redneck country’ then so Japanese brands weren’t the most popular there. My own father insisted he would never own a Japanese car because of Pearl Harbor and he never did. Strange though, because he owned several VW Beetles in the ’60s. He hated the fact that I bought a Mitsubishi Sport pickup in ’83 and did everything he could to get me out of it.

            All of the imports effectively died when import fees went up 25% or more and brands like Mitsubishi and Mazda didn’t have on-shore assembly plants like Toyota and Nissan. When the prices jumped, demand went down for obvious reasons as they offered no real advantage over the American mid-sized trucks any more.

            My point is that without the Chicken tax, we’d probably still have most of those import brands to a greater or lesser extent but other regulations were also having an effect as evidenced by the fact that all pickup trucks started growing larger.

            As for your SUVs, I would suggest you look at the size of the most popular class of car today and you’ll notice that the vast majority are today about the size of old “mid-sized” SUV.

            You are right about the “footprint’ rule being fairly recent, but they were still growing by weight and size due to the old CAFE’s weight ruling for trucks–a heavier truck could weasel out of the more restrictive fuel economy requirements; a loophole intended to cover classes 4 and up but which the OEMs managed to squeeze classes 1 through 3. Footprint was intended to eliminate the loophole, but ended up creating a new one through being too specific in one area when broadening out to point at class vs size and weight would have eliminated the loophole.

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            The Nissan pickup was several hundred dollars less than the S10 in 1984, the height of the Mini-Truck Craze.

            thepeoplehistory.com/80scars.html

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            Actually no, the Chicken tax didn’t suddenly appear to the end the party, it was there all along. Keep in mind, American consumers were never fans of mini-trucks, at least not in a big way.

            The Mini-Truck Craze was sparked by the VRA constraint of ‘imported’ Japanese cars, that interestingly put zero limit on Japanese pickups imported. So Japanese OEMs flooded the US with cut-rate pickups, as a temporary stopgap, until they could get US factories up and running. I don’t think even the Japanese OEMs knew how huge the trend was to become. It was a phenomenon they kicked off!

            It was also perfect timing, since we were fed up with gas guzzling US cars of poor quality, and also, many other trends were just ending. We were more than ready for a new trend. Remember the custom/surfer van movement? Muscle cars? Land yacht coupes?

            It was the ‘perfect storm’ for mini-trucks. Same with other trends of the time. US consumers are fickle, and it was just a matter of time before the next big thing came along.

            I was there in the middle of the Mini-Truck Craze, and it was wild! Especially in so Cal. Custom trucks, Mini Truck shows and jamborees, sound offs. etc. I loved it! Cruising clubs too.

            The craze grabbed people from all walks of life. Teachers, bankers, grandmas, young, old, you name it. Everyone was getting in on the Craze.

            My dad had an 84 Nissan pickup, bought new. Not like him at all, since he’s only had fullsize pickups, before and after that Nissan.

            You yourself had a mini-truck too, but didn’t keep buying them. OEMs were there when the gettin’ was good, but when consumers moved on, so did they.

            When demand for Peugeot cars dwindled, they left the US. No conspiracy necessary. Same with Citroen and others. That’s life. It’s just business to them.

    • 0 avatar
      ttacgreg

      There is no such thing as a “free market ” anywhere, and it is a good thing. A free market left to its own will concentrate all of the wealth and power in the hands of a few.

      • 0 avatar
        JustPassinThru

        Yeah. We can’t have all this **FREE CHOICE** going around…

        Know what is the Trabant? That’s what comes of government dictating what kinds of vehicles its subjects can own and use.

        Trabant. Or Yugo. Or KdF-Wagen…which was a fine car for some, but repugnant to many others.

        But I see where you’re going. You like the Trabant option. Or, rather, you would like YOUR preferences forced onto ALL buyers.

        • 0 avatar
          Drzhivago138

          So, by your reasoning, someone must be absolutely 100% in favor of unfettered markets, or they’re an advocate for having their preferences forced on everyone else, with no room in between? Hmm, this strawman looks a little worse for the wear…

        • 0 avatar
          Vulpine

          “Yeah. We can’t have all this **FREE CHOICE** going around…”

          You’re putting the blame on the wrong hands, JPT; “free choice” is what triggered the set of regulations that cause your favorite truck to fall off the market. Those “free choice” automakers said, “We’re losing business to the imports! We want our customers back!”

      • 0 avatar
        laserwizard

        In our highly regulated neo-communist system that has been offered by King Pimple of a Man and his Pimplettes, more income inequality has occurred – poverty has risen, pigmented skins have paid a higher price for his election than with his pink skinned predecessors.

        A well regulated free market is one thing – one regulated on the basis of lies and deception is even worse – and that is what has motivated this government in the last seven years.

    • 0 avatar
      thelaine

      Agreed JPT. Regulation is necessary but should be minimal. That principle is lost on many. Gas mileage mandates are corrupt, inefficient and costly. They stifle innovation, reduce consumer choice, and support expensive and ever growing government bureaucracy.

      • 0 avatar
        Whittaker

        I also agree with JPT though I think the cause is lost.
        Government tends to become ever more oppressive until they are overthrown.
        But that doesn’t mean oppression shouldn’t be resisted.
        We all will succumb to death but we can still fight death until the end.

        More central government equals less individual freedom. It cannot be otherwise.
        We must have government but there must be restrictions on the power of government…which is why our constitution limits government and guarantees certain individual rights.
        The need for those provisions is proven by the constant assault by government on its own constitutional limits and on individual rights.

        We don’t have individual liberty as a result of a strong country.
        We have a strong country as a result of individual liberty.

        Short answer: Abolish CAFE.
        Then you will see auto-makers design products for customers rather than bureaucrats.

  • avatar
    RetroGrouch

    How about removing the chicken tax built into CAFE in the form of multipliers for wheelbase/track and light trucks? CAFE should be straight fuel mileage based with no concern for size/weight/style. If Ford/GM/G wagon/Chelsea tractor customers want their brodozers, they can pay the CAFE tax. All CAFE taxes then must go directly into road funds until I can drive to work without falling into holes above the belt line of a Fiesta.

    Or, drop CAFE and raise fuel taxes to the point that they actually pay for roads. Of course, this requires armed guards to keep the states’ greedy paws off highway funds.

    • 0 avatar
      sirwired

      I could totally get behind raising fuel taxes to capture the costs of roadways (and, for goodness sakes, index that sucker for inflation!) That would tend to stop the CAFE “gaming” once and for all when it costs $100+ to fill your crazy-wagon.

    • 0 avatar
      DenverMike

      Raised fuel taxes would unfairly hit those already doing “the right thing”, with a compact, fuel stingy little car. And the same goes for those with large families, service industries, self employed, etc.

      The chicken tax has zero to do with CAFE. The “footprint” rule is out of touch, especially since smaller trucks struggle to achieve even marginal fuel savings vs. fullsize pickups. The “economies” don’t exactly “scale” like CAFE thinks they should.

  • avatar
    redav

    Is it strange that I expected Sergio Marchionne’s strategy for meeting CAFE was going to be “merge with another company”? However, However, “I don’t expect it will happen, so we’ll ignore it for now” isn’t too far behind.

  • avatar
    Vulpine

    It will be a mistake to relax the regulation; it was created to reduce pollution as much as it was created to reduce costs for the owner. Over the decades the pollution control–more specifically CO2 generation–has become one of the primary reasons for increased standards under the regulation.

    • 0 avatar
      JustPassinThru

      So how much “pollution” do I avoid by being forced to buy a huge crew-cab Monster Truck that gets 15 mpg, instead of a Nissan Frontier that gets 28?

      How much “pollution” was saved with the LAST round of CAFE, which put families out of Family Cars, which became K-Car penalty boxes, and into SUVs that delivered LESS?

      This is the problem with sloppy abstract thought.

      • 0 avatar
        redav

        Sloppy abstract thought, or deliberately loopholed specifics?

      • 0 avatar
        Vulpine

        “So how much “pollution” do I avoid by being forced to buy a huge crew-cab Monster Truck that gets 15 mpg, instead of a Nissan Frontier that gets 28?”

        You obviously misunderstood my statement, JPT. I strongly suggest you read my comments higher in this thread because I’m supporting the reduction of truck size and clearly state that CAFE is defective; but eliminating it or even easing it is NOT the answer. It needs to be re-written in a way that eliminates loopholes that allowed trucks to get so large. To me, a Class I (½ ton) pickup truck should be no larger than that first-gen Tacoma of yours. A Class II doesn’t NEED to be any larger, all things considered. A Class III might rise to the size of the current “mid-sized” Colorado. Anything larger and/or heavier should be Class IV and above.

        The problem is that your favorite truck was driven out of the market by “free market” players begging regulators for market protection from competitors (along with a few other international political issues that just happened to affect an unrelated market.)

        • 0 avatar
          JustPassinThru

          Yah, I get it, Vulpine. You’re all about forcing us into government categories within government regulations driving government-approved cars when government approves.

          ONLY when government approves.

          Pardon me if I don’t share your dystopian nightmare.

      • 0 avatar
        DenverMike

        Fullsize family cars were dying off before any CAFE intervention. American families largely bought minivans, midsize cars and midsize SUVs instead, unless they were bent on having large vehicles like fullsize SUVs/Pickups.

        But midsize trucks aren’t going to disappear. Buy that 28 mpg Nissan Frontier and don’t look back. Although the “extended cab” fullsize truck is next bigger size from a crew cab Frontier. So how would CAFE force you into one?

        • 0 avatar
          Scoutdude

          Minivans were a product of CAFE. CAFE existed before what we now know as a minivan. Yes VW buses go way back and the Falcon Station Bus and Greenbrier fit the basic mold of what we not call a minivan too.

  • avatar
    redav

    First, I have no problem with the CAFE standard. Cars haven’t turned into underpowered rolling penalty box death traps. We have all the power we’re used to (and more), more safety than ever, and better economy. I call that a win.

    But CAFE has to be understood as one cog in a machine. The goal is to reduce overall emissions, and a vehicle’s efficiency is only one part of the equation. More important is miles driven. Some estimate that full CAFE compliance will make cars $3k more expensive. Some car makers say it will be $6k. And it isn’t even that much of a reduction for many cars. (Diminishing returns will bite you every time.) But if people could cut their commute in half, then their real-world emissions–the thing we actually want to reduce–would be cut in half.

    It’s a shame that so many people live in suburbs & exurbs but drive to a city center for work. There should be more professional jobs adjacent to those professional neighborhoods. For all the talk of corporate community responsibility, very few do anything to promote appropriate housing nearby for their workforce–that includes blue & white collar folks. Better work/home alignment reduces emissions, depreciation (and other costs), traffic, wasted time, & stress.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      Commuter rail and better urban transportation services would help as well. Many cities don’t even offer the opportunity while others are under-supported. Why? Because the average person is too self-centered to adjust their personal schedules to a transportation schedule that could save them both time and money (considering fuel and parking costs.)

      • 0 avatar
        JustPassinThru

        “Commuter rail and better urban transportation services would help as well.”

        The mask comes off; as the trolls’ TRUE agenda comes out.

        They come here on an automotive site to bash private automobiles and thump the tub for government choo-choo trains.

        IGNORING why those DO NOT WORK – unless, like Europe and Eastern Bloc nations, development and even choices in geographic location of one’s home, or size, or nature, are all limited.

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        “Because the average person is too self-centered to adjust their personal schedules to a transportation schedule that could save them both time and money (considering fuel and parking costs.)”

        Yeah, I agree with that.

        Why would any self-respecting American entitled to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness forego the independence of driving themselves to wherever they want, whenever they want?

        Gasoline is cheap. There is no shortage of oil. There won’t be a shortage of oil for at least 200 years into the future yet.

        Finally, industry and government have come to that realization.

        Now is the time to buy your dream car, whatever that may be. There is no time like the present.

        Things WILL change after the November 2016 elections.

        • 0 avatar
          Drzhivago138

          We are endowed with the rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness (at least, in the Declaration, not the actual Constitution), but are these individual rights or collective rights?

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            Maybe both, as long as one person’s rights do not diminish those of another person.

            That’s why we in America live in a largely-segregated society separated by wealth, ethnicity, religious beliefs and race.

          • 0 avatar
            Drzhivago138

            But where does the individual right to happiness as represented by the ownership of inefficient transportation trump the collective right to happiness as represent by a more well-preserved world? We are called to be stewards of the earth.

            (This question is more intended on philosophical level than anything requiring a definite answer. That is, it’s more something to think about than necessarily reply to.)

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            It’s an individual call, classified under “Freedom of Choice.”

            You’re free to buy what you want, and I, and others like myself, choose to buy what we want. For me it’s mostly large and substantial, like many other Americans.

            On a side note, I spent Fri, Sat, and Sun at the Albuquerque International Auto Show.

            We have choices! There’s something out there for each of us, ranging from the most frugal to the most extravagant.

            I can only afford what I can afford to drive, a 2015 Sequoia, a 2016 Tundra and a 1989 Camry V6.

            If I had money, I may choose differently.

            WHO, has called us stewards of the earth? If this were true, why did so many nations cut down all those forests?

          • 0 avatar
            Drzhivago138

            “WHO, [sic] has called us stewards of the earth?”

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stewardship_(theology)

            Surely you are familiar with Laudato si’?

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            “Surely you are familiar with Laudato si’?”

            Yes, I am. But like many AMERICAN Catholics, I don’t share that mutual vision with the Holy Father.

            So, like many AMERICAN Catholics, I try to live a righteous life and don’t always succeed, OR I have to account for living in the real world of the here and now, with all the hard decisions that entails.

            And I have had to make some hard decisions during my life, but I decided on what I thought best under the circumstances.

            The short answer is that I’m not into the far-left uber-liberal green-weenie tree-hugger agenda, even if espoused by the Holy Father.

            The destruction of the rain forests was ill-advised but it served a purpose for those nations that did it. Their problem. Not mine.

            I worked hard all my life and now, near the end of my life, I do not have to deny myself anything. And I’m not. Neither am I going to deny my kids and grandkids anything I can still afford.

            I’ve always been of the philosophy that when it came to cars and trucks, that bigger is better.

            As long as you can afford it.

            Frankly, I see much of this hedonistic approach in everything we Americans do, whether it is supersizing the burger and fries or super sizing our rides.

            Because we can.

            Those who don’t agree don’t have to play by our rules.

            Just don’t force us to play by their rules.

          • 0 avatar
            Drzhivago138

            So you are American before Catholic? (Sorry if I sound too ignorant/insensitive, but this Confessional Lutheran thought Catholics were supposed to be Catholic first and everything else second.)

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Some argue since Vatican II the Pope(s) have not been legitimate heirs to the Throne of St. Peter.

            https://www.lewrockwell.com/2014/10/patrick-j-buchanan/is-the-chair-of-st-peter-vacant/

            “Sedevacantism is the view held by several Catholic traditionalist sects that the popes after Pope Pius XII, the Vatican II popes, that is John XXIII, Paul VI, John Paul I, John Paul II and Benedict XVI are anti-popes and not real successors of Peter. The main proof of this is that they were heretics and for the first time we seem to have popes altering Catholic dogma and so they were not popes for popes are infallible. The idea that they are heretics because the pope isn’t infallible hasn’t occurred to them. Most sedevacantists say that there has been no pope only impostors since 1958 when Pius XII died.”

            http://www.romancatholicism.co.uk/sedevacantism.html

            I try to shy away from religion on this public forum, however using the Wikipedia definition:

            “Christian Stewardship refers to the responsibility that Christians have in maintaining and using wisely the gifts that God has bestowed. God wishes human beings to be his collaborators in the work of creation, redemption and sanctification”

            this isn’t a horrible concept to adhere to however:

            “Increasingly this has referred to environmental protectionism.”

            is difficult to impossible with a growing global population. If this is really a serious end game being contemplated behind the scenes than this Prince Phillip quote not only holds meaning, but becomes almost prophetic. Voluntary becomes involuntary with simply an “in”.

            youtube.com/watch?v=3rWU_VDa1Js

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            “So you are American before Catholic?” Yes. I am an American first, a Catholic second.

            I choose my faith. I did not have a choice in my citizenship or where I was born.

            My wife is German/Lutheran, but born in Cloudcroft, NM.

            Two of my oldest sons are not affiliated with any religion, by their own choice.

            My third son is a practicing and devout Mexican Catholic because he married a illegal alien way back when, who has since become an American citizen when my son needed to get a TS clearance for his Commission in the US Army.

            And my daughter has turned her back on religion since her divorce from a Presbyterian in 2013.

            We let each individual child decide what works best for them, religion or no religion. They need to find their own way, the way I did.

            My #2 son is married to a Mormon but he cannot enter the Temple because he is not a believer. He has a great marriage though.

            In fact my wife is with them now in San Diego, CA, taking care of our daughter-in-law, the Mormon, who had to have a hysterectomy due to cancerous tumors.

            Religion and faith can move mountains but it doesn’t do much for living in the real world where the realities of truth have to be dealt with on a daily basis.

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            28CL, you truly amaze me with your versatility and well-read knowledge.

            I thought I was the only one who researched such tenets and beliefs.

            But for me the decision-making process of daily life revolves around whether or not it will work for me, and if it is affordable and do-able.

            Achieving that balance often is most difficult.

            The aspirations and goals of the Catholic church are to be admired and adhered to whenever and wherever possible, but for many of us living our lives, they are not always achievable.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Wait, they won’t let him in the building?

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            Nope, they won’t.

          • 0 avatar
            JustPassinThru

            Individual rights.

            There is no such thing as a “collective” right. That implies that the right comes from GROUP membership.

            Which implies that the rights are bestowed by government.

            You’re familiar with the concept of “Natural Rights” and “Natural Law”? That Enlightenment philosophers divined through study of civilizations, past and up to their times. Societies which recognized basic rights succeeded far better, with greater prosperity and stability, than those which went counter to these “natural laws.”

            The individual is bestowed those rights. Nature, and Nature’s God, as the authors of the Declaration put it.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            @hdc

            That’s just a tad obtuse.

            ty btw.

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            28CL, Well, those are their rules. They’ve got this beautiful Temple in La Jolla, CA, all white, with spires, angels, just beautiful, but he’s never set foot in it.

            He was married in Las Vegas, NV, after he knocked her up when she decided to discontinue her BC-pills and tricked him in order to get pregnant.

            So, according to Mormon beliefs and traditions, she wanted to continue to go forth and multiply and multiply and multiply, but my son put a stop to that and got a vasectomy for Father’s Day.

            Now her baby-making machinery has been removed due to cancerous lesions.

            Weird how these things work in the real world.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            “she decided to discontinue her BC-pills and tricked him in order to get pregnant.”

            She went old school. I’ll have to remember this if I ever deal with Mormons.

  • avatar
    dwford

    CAFE is a complicated mess of regulations, loopholes, slights of hands etc, but think of all the cool cars and engine tech we have now. Would we see 1.0T 3 cylinder motors, cars like the BMW i8, 25mpg pickups, Tesla?

    Cars are safer, faster, and more fuel efficient than ever. Why mess with a good thing?

    • 0 avatar
      Pch101

      The 1.0-liter engines are the byproduct of laws in Brazil and China, which tax engines based upon displacement.

      • 0 avatar
        Vulpine

        “The 1.0-liter engines are the byproduct of laws in Brazil and China, which tax engines based upon displacement.”

        You forgot Europe.

      • 0 avatar
        dwford

        The point is is that we would never have started to see 1.0T 3 cylinder motors if not for the need to improve fuel economy. You also never would see 1.5T 4 cylinders in midsize cars, and the slow demise of V6 engines in favor of the 2.0T motors. For the most part we are getting better power and better fuel economy at the same time, so despite its complexity, CAFE is a win.

        • 0 avatar
          Pch101

          You’re correct that regulations encourage these sorts of innovations. I’m pointing out that these kinds of regulations aren’t just coming from the US.

        • 0 avatar
          sgeffe

          Except for the increased costs to maintain said motors with squirrel-wheels on top when they have to be beaten within an inch of their lives to move the mass to which they’re hitched!

          Not that it matters much since a fair chunk of the driving populace can’t be bothered to enter a freeway at more than 50mph!

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      “Would we see 1.0T 3 cylinder motors, cars like the BMW i8, 25mpg pickups, Tesla?”

      -Geo offered three cylinder motors in USDM, they want to offer three cylinder motors which operate 80% of power with an I4 and don’t require a turbo crutch for actual power I might consider this a good thing.

      -I would clarify, 25mpg huge pickups with gasoline engines. 25mpg diesel in a smaller size truck was already possible, and even 25mpg in a “pickup” was feasible in a small truck with an I4. The truck majors responded to what their customers wanted, and they wanted this partially in response to the oil spike eight years ago.

      -Tesla is not a natural creation of the market, it is a distortion of the market created by mostly by gov’t and partially by Wall Street. Things like the BMW i8 exist in response to Tesla, and also in response to gov’t distortion of the market.

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      ” think of all the cool cars and engine tech we have now”

      Yup. The coolest I ever owned! A 2015 Sequoia and a 2016 Tundra 4×4 4-door SR5 TRD, each with that magnificent all-aluminum 32-valve DOHC 5.7L V8.

      Cool and with super engine tech.

      An engine like this at one time could only be found in a Ferrari. Now they’re in two of my vehicles. Imagine that.

      • 0 avatar
        JustPassinThru

        You think regulations gave us that?

        How about the kewel stuff the regulations FORBID? Like, say, Wankel engines. They have, at present, poor thermal efficiency. Which is offset by their high power and lower manufacturing cost, and their fewer moving parts.

        But that doesn’t MATTER, that in the end it’s cheaper to own and use than a more-complex vehicle that meets bureaucrats’ diktats. THAT KIND OF FUEL MILEAGE IS FORBIDDEN – so the Wankel becomes a dead end.

        In the end, we’ll all have those stupid hybrids, with their battery-packs which cause MORE environmental problems, manufacturing to disposal…but bureaucrats demand only the fantasy mileage, so we’ll all have slow, kludgy, hopelessly-expensive battery-powered cars to go with our propeller beanies…again, mandated by government regulations.

        • 0 avatar
          Drzhivago138

          The regulations didn’t give us that, no, but they certainly spurred actual innovation, rather than sticking with the same tried-and-true formula.

          If gas had never gone up in 1973, we might still be all driving the same V8-powered, RWD BOF boats that we were in 1970, and 1960, and 1950, etc., etc., rather than the variety of powertrains, configurations, and driving experiences available today.

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            I got my automotive enthusiasm teething on my dad’s dinosaur 426 hemi V8 engines and B&M Turbo Bang shifters of his dragster.

            And I can tell you that what Toyota gives us in that magnificent all-aluminum 32-valve DOHC 5.7L V8 is the Rolex of mass-produced automotive engines.

        • 0 avatar
          highdesertcat

          “Wankel engines. ”

          Too bad about those. I owned a used NSU Ro80 for a short while during the time I was stationed in Germany back in the seventies.

          That Wankel was smooth as glass, a dream to drive, closest to a turbine engine, but impossible to keep running for any length of time without blowing blue smoke and loss of power.

          Ditto the VanVeen Wankel motorcycle. Impossible to keep out of the shop for frequent wiper-seal replacement.

  • avatar
    laserwizard

    If Kankles the Klown (sometimes known as Hillary Rodham) is elected, you can be assured that 54.5 will stay and that foolish company that recalls everything it builds that was rescued because it was too big to fail will be lobbying to be exempted as everyone knows that blowing taxpayer cash on rear wheel drive models is the best way to reach 54.5 mpgs.

    The idiots who advocated and installed this standard assumed that technology can be fiated (not a pun) and that magically everyone will want a car that looks like a cross between a smart car and a prius. Of course, as with any legislation passed by these idiots, there is always the requirement that you will only be able to buy such cars and you will be compelled to do so.

    Now if the towering head of hair gets elected, it all depends on who sells him on the idea of lowering it and how much cash he is willing to take for lowering the standard.

    If Governor Skidmarks from Ohio is elected, he’ll take credit for raising and lowering the standard and he’ll be the seminal advocate for CAFE in his historical rewrite to make himself look like a bigger skidmark.

    • 0 avatar
      JustPassinThru

      ++ THIS.

      I don’t know who will win come November.

      It’s pretty obvious who loses. WE lose.

      As shown by some of the tub-thumpers here…they really blame free markets and capitalism for the flaws in consumer products. IGNORING the wonderful offerings from State-owned manufacturers…like Zastava/Yugo, VAZ/Lada; whatever commissariat built the Trabant…to say nothing of crony-connected protected industries like Hindustan, and Fiat, and Renault (which has drifted in and out of State ownership).

      Those, I guess, are all great cars – because they are built to these persons’ ideals. We can’t have stuff like little pickup trucks, or big cars, or Jeeps that don’t have airbags, or flat-front work vehicles with the engine between the seats. NO…DOESN’T COMPLY.

      • 0 avatar
        Drzhivago138

        We don’t have…

        …little (as in, compact) pickup trucks because most Americans buy by the pound and space is not an issue, so why pay the same to get less?

        …big cars, because crew cab pickups now fill that void, getting the same or better MPG while being easier to see out of in the crowd of SUVs, CUVs, and minivans.

        …flat-front vans with the engine between the seats because as soon as the manufacturers went to a truck-based design to save themselves money, sales really picked up because now you could use the van to tow a camper. And most people didn’t like the engine being right there in the cab with them.

        Just because some people here don’t want a completely free market, where greed is good and profit trumps morality, does not mean they glorify state-sponsored endeavors. I don’t know why that’s so hard to understand.

        • 0 avatar
          JustPassinThru

          “We don’t have…”

          If it were truly market forces, these would have disappeared of their own merit. Some did.

          Many others were REGULATED out. At various times I had both a YJ an TJ Wrangler. The YJ was infinitely superior from a driver’s/passenger’s point – in spite of leaf springs versus coil springs. Why? Airbags cut so deeply into interior room.

          I don’t need airbags. I have always worn a three-point harness, which is inherently safer than a blow-up pillow anyway.

          It’s this MANDATING of crap that does NOT meet needs and often causes harm or denies needs, that I am opposed to.

          People don’t WANT these sh!tbox eco-mobiles. And they are NOT saving the planet – the total oil saved by these higher regulations is fractional. I cooked the numbers ten years ago – it’s about two percent total oil consumption.

          You could lose two percent of your wallet’s contents and never miss it. This is crap; this is government flexing its muscles.

          Next up: CONTROLLING USE OF PERSONAL CARS.

      • 0 avatar
        Xeranar

        Using a totalitarian state with a directed economy as a justification for a free market capitalist system is stupid. You can have a mixed-economy or a market-based socialist system without giving up on well-designed items.

        Frankly, your argument is built on the most pathetic of stilts. Just pointing at Germany kicks them out from under you….

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      Yup, we have dim political prospects for Nov 2016. Neither side has a viable candidate and everybody all around is p!ssed off at everything.

      So, NOW is the time to buy that gas-guzzling rolling-coal smoke-belching road behemoth!

      I got mine. They should last me the rest of my driving life.

      • 0 avatar
        Xeranar

        HRC is actually much better liked than people let on. It’s just sky-high hatred from Republicans that generally drive her numbers up along with shaky feelings with independents. But she’ll be the next president. Don’t worry, your self-destructing GOP will hold on till 2020 when they’ll be censused out of power and we’ll be leaving your whole breed of white male supremacy through lack of government behind.

        • 0 avatar
          highdesertcat

          Back in 2008 I would have voted for Hillary but she’s got way too much baggage now.

          Many of the ‘crats actually prefer Bernie over Hillary. Just look at the turnout for Bernie!

          That said, I also believe that Hillary will be the next POTUS because every woman in America, including my own, wants to see that first woman-president during their lifetime.

          We had a negro for president and the next one will be a woman for president. Seems like the logical progression in America’s downward spiral.

          I’m not a member of the GOP. I have voted for candidates of both parties over the years. Always for the most qualified for the job.

          This year I don’t like any of the remaining five candidates so I’ll vote for Gary Johnson again.

          The political process really has little effect on me. I’m pretty well insulated from it all. I have my financial ducks lined up and do my best to limit my interaction with government.

          Hell, my official income is so low that I don’t even have to file an income tax return.

          Were that to change, like to everyone must file a return, or the IRS got a hold of my shoebox stash of cash, I would be in deep kimchee.

          I keep a very low profile, like other people who got their act together.

          I worked for my American Dream and don’t want to be beholden to anyone, so I leave the taxpaying burden to all you working stiffs who still need to work to make ends meet.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      @laserwizard:

      I have no idea what you’re talking about. That has got to be the most nonsensical, rambling and illogical statement I have ever read.

  • avatar
    kobo1d

    Wow, what a trash fire of a comment section on this one. Fossil fuel usage is a textbook tragedy of the commons and I personally agree with the increasing targets. Creative limitation should lead to some interesting innovations. CAFE requirements should also definitely be clarified so that cars cannot so easily be reclassified as trucks (the PT Cruiser loophole).

    • 0 avatar
      SunnyvaleCA

      How about ditch CAFE entirely?

      “[CAFE] misses out on a potentially key part of the solution to reducing fuel use: driving less. In fact, ironically, increased CAFE standards will have a perverse and unwelcome effect … less thirsty cars will actually cause people to increase the number of miles they drive”

      http://freakonomics.com/2011/08/15/raising-mpg-standards-the-second-best-solution-to-a-gas-tax-increase/

      Please also check out the Jevons Paradox on Wikipedia.

      • 0 avatar
        kobo1d

        Great links! It does seem like the demand for transportation is elastic, based on consumer behavior when gas prices are low. I wonder if anyone has studied the theoretical point at which this levels off and further increases in efficiency do not translate to increased demand for transportation. i.e. at a certain point, there is another constraint (time?). I think what we will see is a combination of regulation now and then tax increases later.

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      “CAFE requirements should also definitely be clarified so that cars cannot so easily be reclassified as trucks”

      They were. And thus the crossover crop grew exponentially.

  • avatar
    bludragon

    Not exactly on topic, but looking at that EPA sticker brings out a pet peeve of mine.

    If 37 MPG costs me $1307/yr, then how is that equivalent to 93 MPG, if by the EPAs own estimate that will cost $601/year? (1307/601*37 = 80)

  • avatar
    danio3834

    The targets should be relaxed. They can be met however at a lot of added cost, most of which is passed on to the consumer. Most people don’t make this connection and simply assume the rising cost of vehicles is due to inflation or being screwed. Nevermind consumer preference.

  • avatar
    ToddAtlasF1

    Arguing against freedom should be fatal. Wealth without the backing of a powerful state is no danger. This country has failed to educate its most vulnerably stupid.

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