By on July 19, 2016

gas-pump-save-ftr

The federal agencies reviewing the country’s corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) targets are pleasantly surprised by the amount of fuel-saving technology in modern vehicles, and hint that the target they decided on back in 2011 is still doable.

Those agencies just released a technical assessment report (TAR) to guide the review process. In it, they figured that vehicles will average between 50 and 52.6 miles per gallon by the target year of 2025 — if gas stays stable and consumers continue buying SUVs and trucks.

That’s not too far off the original target, and judging by the optimistic tone of the report, it’s likely the 54.5 mpg mandate will stay intact.

When regulators set the 2025 CAFE target, it served as a steep challenge to automakers. Backlash continues to this day, especially from the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers — complexity adds cost being their main argument. However, the last five years saw huge advances in technology designed to wring more power and mileage out of vehicles, especially gasoline-powered ones.

The Draft TAR was issued by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, National Highway Transportation Safety Administration and the California Air Resources Board. A 60-day public comment period follows, after which the agencies go to work on a proposed determination (expected in mid-2017).

The level of new technology in the marketplace encouraged all agencies, which expect more fuel-sipping advances:

It is clear that the automotive industry is innovating and bringing new technology to market at a rapid pace and neither of the respective agency analyses reflects all of the latest and emerging technologies that may be available in the 2022-2025 time frame. For example, the agencies were not able for this Draft TAR to evaluate the potential for technologies such as electric turbocharging, variable compression ratio, skip-fire cylinder deactivation, and P2-configuration mildhybridization. These technologies may provide further cost-effective reductions in GHG emissions and fuel consumption.

Shedding weight, boosting aerodynamics, and increasing the use of advanced gasoline engines and efficient transmissions will go a long way to reaching the target, the report finds. As for the perpetually looming electric vehicle revolution, the Draft TAR doesn’t think the marketplace needs to soak up huge amounts of EVs.

The reports states that “only modest amounts of hybridization, and very little full electrification (plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV) or electric vehicles (EV)) technology will be needed to meet the standards.”

Meeting EPA emissions targets would require EVs to reach close to three percent of the country’s vehicle fleet by 2025, while the CAFE target could be reached by a two percent (or slightly less) EV market share. It’s possible that the lower-cost 200-mile EVs poised to enter the market over the next two years could achieve this, though meeting the EPA’s target would be a real challenge.

When the agencies behind the report issue their final recommendation in April 2018, don’t be shocked to see the status quo maintained.

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84 Comments on “Report Hints That Feds Might Keep 54.5 MPG CAFE Target...”


  • avatar
    jimbob457

    “Report hints” … What kind of garbage is this? How can you report it with a straight face?

    Pro CAFE bureaucrats have their own rice bowl. They will always be in favor of their jobs. In truth, CAFE is mostly dead because of fracking and $50 oil. No problem.

    Pro-industry lawyer pimps also have the same rice bowl.

    • 0 avatar
      VoGo

      It doesn’t seem fair to attack Steph’s reporting just because your political views are not in accord with the subject matter.

    • 0 avatar
      IAhawkeye

      I mean.. it wasn’t just reported in TTAC, I read it in the paper this morning(we still get those at my house). I actually got on here wondering where this story was this morning.

      I think the methodology’s a little unfair to the automakers considering consumer demands, but that doesn’t mean I have a problem with CAFE altogether. Who doesn’t want to get better MPG’s and spend less on gas?

    • 0 avatar
      Yesac13

      The mandarins in charge of CAFE will be out a job by approx 2030.

      Why?

      Electrics will rule the roads by then. Why bother spending billions making sure ICE engines pass the emissions rules, making sure the car/truck/whatever passes CAFE and also score 5 stars in crash tests? Why spend money on complex gazillion speed automatics that herk and jerk?

      It’s cheaper to develop pure electric cars. Spend the money on batteries and so on instead of emissions crap. You can design electric cars to be smaller than today’s electric cars due to space savings (batteries consume space but can be anywhere – unlike engines or exhausts) and still score 5 stars in crash tests. Not having an engine taking up all of the front area helps lots for 5 star frontal and offset crash scores.

      With an electric car or truck, what is the point of CAFE? None. This means an explosion of different styles and sizes that will surprise you. I am looking forward to it. CAFE is driving the looks of cars today in a major way and it’s starting to pall.

    • 0 avatar
      Whittaker

      “Pro CAFE bureaucrats have their own rice bowl. They will always be in favor of their jobs.”

      True.

      Its a shame that such a statement is seen as partisan.
      I guess some don’t know how most large govt. bureaucracies operate:
      1) Always claim you are underfunded and understaffed.
      2) Try to enlarge your mandate.
      3) $pend as much as possible promoting your agency.

      This is not a partisan political opinion.
      This is common knowledge among anyone who has worked with or in bureaucracies. Sometimes truth is truth regardless of your political leanings.

      That said, blaming Steph was uncalled for.

      • 0 avatar
        wumpus

        You might want to look into safety standards and how the regulators absolutely insisted (and for all I know still insist) that nobody wears their seat belt decades after people started wearing them.

        One thing that has changed is that the US government barely “hires” anyone anymore. They just use contractors (and the contractors who do the work become more or less permanent. The various overhead companies come and go, but they pretty much need the guys who know their jobs. It should be slightly easier to get rid of these jobs (which will be protected to the death as the department’s “turf”) as opposed to a GS-level job which is essentially granted-for-life.

        But yes, the car makers have always claimed incompetence, regardless of the circumstances:
        Safe cars were impossible. Keep making those killer dashboards and leaving out seatbelts.
        It was impossible to approach the quality of a Japanese car. Better increase tarrifs and decrease quotas.
        A car company can’t possibly stay in business by itself, better bail them out.
        You can’t possibly produce a car even 80% as efficient as a prius, even 15 years later.

        • 0 avatar
          Pch101

          84% of American drivers use their seat belts, as compared to 98% of Germans, 98% of Japanese and 95% of Brits.

          Your government knows you better than you think.

          • 0 avatar
            SSJeep

            American seatbelt compliance is below some other countries, yes, but it is safe to say that the majority of Americans wear seat belts. The remainder that don’t are either meatheads who will never be convinced of the safety merits, or people who falsely believe that a seat belt will lead to more injuries.

            No government mandate will convince the remaining minority of non-compliant motorists to start buckling up.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            I think that everybody knows that 84% is a majority. But it’s a lot lower than 95-98%.

            The federal government has already accepted that a lot of Americans won’t wear seat belts. That’s exactly why it has set standards based upon the presumption that you won’t.

          • 0 avatar
            RobertRyan

            @SS Jeep
            Australia more specifically Victoria was the first country to introduce belts as mandatory .
            Probably why we have a very high percentage of Seatbelt wearers

        • 0 avatar
          Big Al from Oz

          wumpus,
          I wonder if the NHSTA has looked at why the US appears to not want to wear seat belts? Is it due to the lack of enforcement?

          The US has a high level of fatalities in comparison to its OECD friends, so this indicates to me the whole US system of vehicle safety is lacking.

          How good a job is the NHSTA doing?

      • 0 avatar
        jimbob457

        Sorry Steph. Still saying “reports hint ……” is not the best way to start, IMO.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    It might help to point out that 54.5 mpg under the CAFE formula is closer to 40 mpg on the window sticker.

    And at this point, it is essentially an industry average with some fudge factor, so not every individual OEM has to get 40 mpg. (For example, they can buy and sell credits to make up the difference, and the platform mix plays a role in what is required.)

    • 0 avatar
      George B

      Back in 2013 Edmunds estimated that 54.5 mpg CAFE was equivalent to 36 mpg combined on the window sticker, but I haven’t found the details of how CAFE vs. window sticker mpg are related. http://www.edmunds.com/fuel-economy/faq-new-corporate-average-fuel-economy-standards.html

      I can safely predict that vehicle manufacturers will aggressively game the system, designing cars and trucks that score significantly better fuel economy on the test than in the real world. I just hope they learned not to use dog clutches in automatic transmissions like those used in the ZF 9 speed.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        The CAFE formula for calculating industry compliance was created in the 1970s. It remains essentially unchanged.

        The MPG formula for what goes on the window sticker has changed over time, due in large part to consumer complaints about the numbers being unrealistic. So that MPG calculation is now more conservative that it once was.

        As a result, these are two very different formulae, and they produce different results. And that’s before any adjustments have been made for E85 credits, etc.

        The old CAFE essentially encouraged automakers to make small cars to offset the big ones, and forced every automaker to hit the same numbers. The new CAFE encourages fuel-saving technologies and weight reduction, which means more aluminum, more turbos, more start-stop systems, etc., and allows the OEMs that outperform the averages to sell credits to those OEMs that do not. The focus is now more on industry averages than corporate averages.

  • avatar
    Kenmore

    Shux, who doesn’t want better fuel economy? :-)

    And I went and got bionic so I’ll be able to squiggle in & out beneath the ever lower rooflines CAFE has inflicted. You big moaturr guys can give a little, too.

  • avatar
    orenwolf

    Excuse the Canadian lack of knowledge here, but since this is average fleet economy, how do BEVs play into this? If all these 200-mile bev’s sell as predicted, will they put a serious dent in the average? Or do they not count?

    • 0 avatar
      Pch101

      EVs count and Tesla generates revenue from CAFE credits.

      http://energy.gov/eere/vehicles/fact-871-may-4-2015-most-manufacturers-have-positive-cafe-credit-balances-end-model

  • avatar
    Frylock350

    Cue the social justice / social engineering types trying to come up with some other way to force us out of “evil” trucks and into “good” econoboxen now that gas is cheap. Personally I don’t think $2/gal gas is going to affect electric cars either way. A BEV allows you to never have to stop a fueling station. Also for the lease and fuel costs of say a nicely equipped Grand Cherokee or Pilot you can lease a Model S.

    I personally don’t think CAFE is all evil. My truck gets astounding fuel economy for what it is and I have CAFE to thank for it. CAFE makes it easier to own larger vehicles as it forces them to be more fuel efficient. I don’t think a gas tax would do that. Of course if gas were taxed more heavily I’d just keep buying E-85 as much as possible. I only purchase gas when I can’t find E-85 or when I intend to take a road trip because the increased range is worth it.

    • 0 avatar
      Lou_BC

      @Frylock350 – agreed.
      What is there to hate?
      If I drive carefully I’ve gotten 20.4 mpg highway (on several 500 mile trips in mountainous terrain) out of my 2010 F150 Supercrew 4×4 and that is with the thirsty 5.4. The best I ever got out of my 1984 2.8 litre Ranger was 24.1 mpg. My 1990 F250 at best got 15.8 mpg (USA gallons).
      Even if costs to consumers go up there is a ROI.

      • 0 avatar
        SSJeep

        CAFE is hated because it is mandated by fiat. In an ideal open society, citizens should be able to vote for this sort of legislation based on facts presented. I am no fan of CAFE, but I am a fan of an increase in gas tax instead. The federal government has effectively left billions of tax dollars on the table by mandating fuel efficiency standards through CAFE instead of via taxation (which inherently changes consumer behavior). And thanks to CAFE standards, the feds and states are now losing fuel tax revenue when it could have been done right via gas tax in the first place.

        • 0 avatar
          VoGo

          Our current CAFE is a result of the 2007 EISA, legislated by Congress and signed by President Bush. This is how American government works.

          • 0 avatar
            slance66

            @VoGo, yes, and that is the problem. Congress passes a law, cedes its Constitutional authority to an agency staffed by people who don’t answer to the people, and who are generally self-serving or lack understanding of the true impact of their regulations.

            The regulatory state is an unmitigated disaster.

            That said, CAFE is and was the wrong approach to improving fuel efficiency in vehicles.

  • avatar
    JustPassinThru

    Of course, the way to get better fuel economy is to HAVE GOVERNMENT ORDER IT.

    Then it will magically happen.

    The Car of the Future awaits. See it now, at your local golf course…in the cart barn…

    • 0 avatar
      Lou_BC

      JustPassinThru – what other options are there to foster mpg and emissions improvements other than taxation?

      • 0 avatar
        JustPassinThru

        How about, nothing?

        A characteristic of a free people is that they’re free to do what they like. With what they like.

        If someone wants to take the bus and (supposedly) save all kinds of fuel (actually, buses save little; I cooked the numbers a long time ago) that’s his prerogative.

        If he wants to travel by bicycle, his business. And if he wants to use a Kenworth tractor as his personal vehicle…AGAIN, his business.

        It’s not up to government to “save fuel” or mandate how much fuel can be used or what it should sell for.

        Unless, of course, government owns its subjects – instead of it being a government Of The People.

        • 0 avatar
          Lou_BC

          @JustPassinThru – I agree that people should be free to do what ever they like but the obvious caveat is that in exercising those freedoms they don’t impinge upon my own.

          Would car companies build exactly what we want if there was zero government intervention?

          Why do you think it is not the government’s mandate to save fuel?

          If you look at it tactically:

          “The Department of Defense uses 4,600,000,000 US gallons (1.7×1010 L) of fuel annually, an average of 12,600,000 US gallons (48,000,000 L) of fuel per day.”

          • 0 avatar
            JustPassinThru

            “Would car companies build exactly what we want if there was zero government intervention? ”

            Of course they would. They always did…they build cars to sell.

            If there are no buyers for a car, as there were not for the American Austin or the Chrysler Airflow…they go away.

            Of course if government only allows certain kinds of cars to be sold, then the only cars to be sold will be government-permissible ones.

            The problem comes when nobody wants the government-cars. Or when government orders a product mix, and everyone wants the Bad kind and nobody wants the Good kind, ordered by government.

            Now, YOU may not get the car YOU want. I may not. Because the market may not be deep enough to support what models you or I may want as manufactured goods.

            But there’s a better chance of it, then when it is government decreeing specifications, apart from what purchasers want. And various engineering feats, with costs.

            There will be no more low-volume small car companies. Studebaker, scaled back to one model with a contracted-out engine, was in fact profitable; but the 1966 safety act made the future impossible.

            Nor will niche models ever again be tried. No more Corvairs. No more flat-front minivans. Even cars like the Suzuki Cultus/Geo Metro are now forbidden. All cars MUST meet Federal specifications, such as fuel-tank locations and door reinforcements…that micro-cars like the Cultus did not meet and cannot be made to meet.

          • 0 avatar
            orenwolf

            While I agree that the government shouldn’t dictate design, facts should, and proven safety features should damn well be mandatory. If they happen to result in most cars looking similar, well – that’s the price you pay for cars being the transportation method killing the most humans.

            Now, that being said, it’s important that the facts be facts, not misconstrued to meet the political needs of whomever is currently in power and wants to support their local parts factory, etc.

          • 0 avatar
            TrailerTrash

            See, Lou, this is where the wording used by you here to justify this particular regulation kinda makes me crazy.

            Governments and the Know IT Alls want to tell me how to do everything…even if it doesn’t REALLY affect you.

            Everything affects somebody.

            Why are there laws forcing the use of seatbelts? If I wanna kill myself, then you will supposedly say the increase in your insurance forces yo to force me to care for myself.

            What about fat people? Can I say fat people today? Or has that been regulated away? Should they be forced to lose weight cause they are effecting my insurance?

            Why should I be forced to wear a helmet on a motorcycle or even a city cycle?

            Why should I be forced to buy a high mileage car when George Clooney can jet around to his 6 vacation homes JUST cause he can?

            But where does the actual quality of life end up if every little thing that affects another gets regulated.

            MPG should not and does not affect you or anybody else. Afterall, if we are forced to find another source, the greenies will be proven true and there isn’t enough oil. The fact that it is right now $1.68 in MO must be a trick.

          • 0 avatar
            Lou_BC

            @TrailerTrash-
            Am I supporting this legislation? I support improved MPG.

            I feel that it has helped but are there better ways to do it with less regulation?

            Taxation tends to be the easiest to implement and regulate but is political suicide.

            You mention safety.
            People are p!ss poor judges of risk and have zero understanding of the forces involved in a car crash.
            You can chose to not wear a seat belt and look at it as if you are the only one at risk o harm but you are putting others at risk.
            If you aren’t wearing a seatbelt but others in the vehicle are, you become a projectile inside the car and endager them.

            Ejection from the vehicle also has the potential of injuring others.

            Not all crashes are fatal. A minor crash without a seatbelt can become a fatal crash. As long as you are conscious and not severely injured you still have some control of the vehicle.

            Any safety measure you chose not to use affects more than you. What about family or friends? Society? Work or Productivity?

            There are intended and unintended consequences to our actions.

            Like I said earlier, “people should be free to do what ever they like but the obvious caveat is that in exercising those freedoms they don’t impinge upon my own.”

            I’ve seen more than my fair share of unnecessary death in my life.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            In the US, CAFE is a politically acceptable substitute for a higher gas tax.

            You want to pay more for gas? Then keep on whining about CAFE. Either that, or be a grownup and understand that CAFE saves you money in exchange for nothing from you in return.

            Also understand that other nations are moving toward similar standards — the EU has already created its own version of it, while there is some effort in Australia to do the same. Nobody is going to eliminate these standards; you’re fighting the tide.

          • 0 avatar
            TrailerTrash

            Pch101

            Well, I was born a loser.
            I am fighting the tide.
            Yup.

            But that seems against my lessons to my kids.
            I try to tell them not to fight the good fight. Rather, sty below radar because when a idiotic wave of human dumb begins washing over the nation or world, there is nothing good that can come from your standing in front, giving it the Last Great Act Of Defiance slute.

            However, it is my nature to stand against. And the thought that other nations are doing it so it must be good simple makes me shake my head.

            History has proven the inherent big brother of government. THIS government, here in America, has become even more Big Brother. The terrible limits and regulations placed upon our daily lives is killing creative freedom.

            These CAFE regs do nothing to help us but are only to regulate the consumption of oil. And who cares how much oil I burn? I have repeated tried to show this is a biased, rick folk get out jail card. IF we REALLY wanted to do this fairly, then DeCaprio would not be allowed to fly 35 friends around for a party. There is NO WAY this type of in your face waste of fuel will ever equal my driving the most wasteful SUV my entire life.

            Never.

            And Rich folk having multiple HUGE homes, wasting massive amounts of energy completely overshadow my, or any lower life’s, use of energy.

            This is a regulatory government without any use for truth.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            You should just be honest and admit that you love CAFE.

            CAFE gives you something to complain about (even though it harms your life not one whit). I doubt that there is anything that you enjoy more than complaining.

          • 0 avatar
            TrailerTrash

            Pch101

            Thanks for you really deep analysis of my life.

            Amazing talent you have….And I can see now how you know exactly what is good for all of us.
            You simply know.

            You should be in government, friend, you have the gift.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            It’s as if you guys are five years old.

            Life isn’t always about choosing between cotton candy and ice cream. Either you can pay more for gas, or else you can have a regulation that really has no impact on your life. Which option do you prefer?

          • 0 avatar
            Kenmore

            “Which option do you prefer?”

            To squawk at length on the internet because everyone at home tells them to stfu already?

          • 0 avatar
            TrailerTrash

            “Either you can pay more for gas, or else you can have a regulation that really has no impact on your life.”

            THOSE are my only options? What a silly liberal strawdog set up.

            Not more gas and less regulation? And regulation without impact???

            Well done. Yo DO work for a government somewhere somehow.

            I guess all those years of drug use have limited my thought process…everything seems a bit more difficult to analyze. Obviously it is more complicated than for you.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            Can you describe in 25 words or less how CAFE turned your world upside down and ruined your life? Avoid using cliches and catchphrases: I would like to hear some specific examples of how you personally were harmed by it.

            What I do know is that CAFE keeps gas taxes down, which is something that should make conservatives happy. (Then again, you guys are always miserable, so I’m not particularly surprised.)

          • 0 avatar
            Adam Tonge

            Pch-

            CAFE tuk our jerbs!

            According to an article in the NY Times, conservatives are happier than liberals.

            http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/08/opinion/sunday/conservatives-are-happier-and-extremists-are-happiest-of-all.html

          • 0 avatar
            redav

            I, for one, don’t have much of a problem with govt defining/enforcing the rules of the game, so long as they have a good constitutional argument for those rules.

            I don’t want them telling me what I have to buy, and I don’t want them dictating designs & technologies, but if I can get what I want within the framework of their rules, then there’s little harm done.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            “CAFE tuk our jerbs!”

            Those spelling instruktor jobs must be tuff to fill, thanks to the guvmint.

            As for the constitution, Article 1 Section 9 spells out what the legislature specifically can’t do. The list is pretty short.

          • 0 avatar
            TrailerTrash

            PCH

            so this is exactly what drives me to happily drink more…arguments and set up hyperbol crap like “how CAFE turned your world upside down and ruined your life?”

            CAFE didn’t do this and I never said it did. So why do you liberal knuckleheads continually keep doing this?

            But OK.

            CAFE has made it so the engines today are over complicated wheezing cannot fix yourself gotta call/take it to a repair for anything messes.

            And, if you must know, a few engine lights have been caused due to stupid little forced upon us environmental failures. All costly and out of warranty.

            Let’s see…how many more words do I get to use befo……

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            Engines are more complicated because emissions controls help your lungs to stay pink. Pink is a bad color for cars, but it’s a great color for lungs.

            That really has nothing to do with CAFE. CAFE –> mpg, emissions controls –> smog. A VW Bug from the good ol’ days produces far more smog than a modern V8 Mustang (and that new Mustang is better than it ever was in almost every way.)

        • 0 avatar
          JimZ

          “A characteristic of a free people is that they’re free to do what they like. With what they like.”

          however, an actual *society* recognizes that your right to swing your fists around ends at the tip of my nose.

          • 0 avatar
            JustPassinThru

            “however, an actual *society* recognizes that your right to swing your fists around ends at the tip of my nose.

            That goes without saying. But a mature society of adults can tell the difference between actual injury, and feigned injury when busybodies who want others to live as they, the busybodies, demand…are ignored.

            If I slug you, obviously, I’ve done you a wrong. If I burn tires in my backyard and you’re downwind, it’s obviously an issue for you. If I rent a jackhammer and start breaking up driveway concrete at midnight…my neighbors have a legitimate beef.

            NOT when my CAR is bigger than the SJWs demand be allowed us peons. Not when the agitators try to stir up hysteria about hydro-electric and nuclear power, instead insisting on unworkable windmills – much better at slaughtering bird flocks than generating even small amounts of electricity.

            We have gone from the culture, and the People, controlling government, to the government, run by Power Elites, controlling and driving the culture.

      • 0 avatar
        stuki

        The one employed by the aircraft industry, for one…..

        “Emissions”, at least the bad kind, and MPG are very weakly related. And, as the recent diesel “scandals” hint at, can often pull in opposite directions. Which, given that regulators are always at least partly captive by those they are supposed to regulate, inevitably will allow the regulatees the occasional “get out of jail free” card for compromising on nasty stuff, in pursuit of stuff of the mainly feel good kind.

        In addition, regulations as kinda-sorta-halfassedly aimed at fuel conservation as CAFE, have so many side effects non related to their stated goal, that whatever benefits may derive from them, are more than negated by the negatives.

        If you want more gas conservation, tax gas. Period. Of course, politicians hate simple, effective and non obfuscated, as it prevents them from enjoying the main benefit (to them) of any regulation: The ability to arbitrarily reward their “friends” and punish their “enemies.” So, CAFE is now calculated per “vehicle class”, “footprint”, and pretty soon paint color and skin color of the main driver demographic and, as in Europe, per “approved or not” use. Requiring automakers to devote resources to all manners of nonsense, instead of simply focusing on improving efficiency while serving their customers as best they can.

        Then, you throw into the mix, the way “mileage” is measured, which is only tangentially related to the actual amount of fuel a vehicle will use. Encouraging automakers to focus on such brilliantly useful metrics as empty driving around an EPA like loop, for a truck that will be bought to maxtow back and forth across the Rockies for it’s entire existence….. And ditto for a Corvette bought for weekend tracking….

        So, again, just tax gas. Period. The have a fight over how much “we” need to encourage reduced gas use. And keep the fight in an arena where there is some theoretical possibility that the people voting over it, understands what they’re voting for. Instead of asking people to be “pro” or “con” some obfuscated complexicana that even the people enforcing it don’t really understand. Like that other piece of legislative brilliance, Obamacare.

        And then there’s the idiocy of segmenting the metrics by “corporate.” Which is nothing but a handout to those “evil” big corporations who can play the CAFE game. Pickup trucks being as profitable as they are would, in any normal market, result in outsiders entering, driving costs and baked in rent-level profitability down. Good for consumers. Possibly less so for lobbyist endowed incumbents.

        And on and on. So, yet again; it’s not unreasonable that a government that implicitly subsidized gas prices by spending a fortune protecting supply lines would want to encourage some moderation in it’s use. But do it rationally. Meaning as directly, cleanly and unobfuscatedly as possible. By imposing a gas tax. Then let people who are told they are some sort of “free”, optimize under that regimen. All CAFE does, is benefit politicians, lobbyists, lawyers and other incumbent hacks. At the cost of everyone else. Which of course, begs the question wrt all legislation in a progressive society: Uh, shat else is new?

        • 0 avatar
          Lou_BC

          @stuki – I do agree. Complexity allows for loopholes and those loopholes tend to be set up for whom ever is favoured by those in power. There are a lot of palms to grease and asses to kiss when it costs over a billion dollars to become commander in chief.

          A tax would be simple but politically would simply be suicide.

          • 0 avatar
            JustPassinThru

            “A tax would be simple but politically would simply be suicide.”

            And that is that – or should be.

            It depends, on whether you believe the government should reflect the wishes of the People; or whether you think the government should be FORCING the People to behave in certain ways; forcing life-patterns and behaviors by taking away some choices and heavily-penalizing other disapproved choices.

            Somehow the concept of just leaving people to use the cars they choose and spend their own money as they choose, is totally repugnant. Everyone wants to be a social engineer.

          • 0 avatar
            Lou_BC

            @JustPassinThru – Is improving mpg forcing people into altered life-patterns and behaviors?

            Everything evolves. It isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

            What choices are they taking away?

            I don’t care if my truck has a 380hp V8 or a 380 hp turbo V6. If I have to chose a hybrid so be it. It isn’t as if the car companies are going to go into the “one off” business to keep any of us happy.

            It is all a compromise.

            You can still chose to buy a poor mpg V8 in a HD pickup or buy a Leaf and anything in between.

            The oil price collapse turned the focus upon government regulations.

            Wasn’t 100 plus dollar a barrel taking choices away and altering “life-patterns and behaviors”?

            Social engineering is a quant term that tends to get flung out by you rather frequently but somehow it isn’t social engineering when you put foreword your ideology.

        • 0 avatar
          Big Al from Oz

          stuki,
          I did some reading on the negative impacts of supposedly good regulations.

          Good regulations protect the consumer, poor regulation protects industry, corporations, unions and other small interest groups.

          When the poor regulations occurs it causes other issues that need addressing. A classic one is protection of the steel industry.

          So, a country wants to protect is steel industry. What happens? Well it costs more for steel manufactured products within the country trying to protect that industry. Making steel manufacturing less competitive.

          It’s the same with the auto industry, agri, etc.

          Trying to provide the cheapest and most competitive options to the consumer will ultimately allow consumers to have more spending power, thus, expanding the economy.

          So, CAFE, which apart of the vast web of controls, regulations, tariffs, etc is protecting the US vehicle manufacturers.

          Why not allow for a more competitive US market?

          There is room for a more competitive US vehicle market. This will be better for all in the US.

          Imagine the high profit pickups being cheaper to buy? I can’t believe full size pickup fans support the chicken tax, when the tax making pickups much more expensive than needed.

          They boast about the profits pickups make, and don’t want a cheaper pickup!

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            BAFO – So what kind impact did the wild ’80s Mini-Truck Craze have on fullsize pickup prices back then? Were they even in direct competition? Obviously not so much.

            Silly concepts based on nothing. Why would pickup buyers not want to pay less?? But you totally fail to explain the link between fullsize, highly profitable US pickups and a couple missing global pickups, perhaps one or two from China.

            Other than they all have pickup beds, what’s the connection?

            Minus the Chicken tax, if you’re expecting another crazy flood of import pickups, you’re completely deluded.

            We’re missing a lot of the world’s smaller cars too, but who’s gonna cry for them??

            Would the sudden import of Ladas or Tatas grossly impact sales of Camrys/Accords/Altimas/Maximas/Lexus/3-series/Acura etc, etc???

            Hey as long as they have 4 doors and a trunk, those had better run for cover!!! Don’t cha think?

        • 0 avatar
          redav

          Instead of taxing gas, I’d support simply limiting how much oil can be imported, and steadily reduce the amount over time.

          Limiting supply raises price just as taxing would, which should force down demand, so goal achieved. A difference is that it will drive domestic job growth and reduce the trade deficit both keeping money in the economy rather than sending it to someone else’s economy and/or the govt pocket.

          • 0 avatar
            stuki

            The problem with hard limits, is that they never end up being so hard. Someone will always “need” to get just a little more. With that someone, strangely enough, always being someone better connected to the guys who are supposed to enforce the limit.

            Think military: We “need” more gas to fly our soldiers home…… And then it’s all downhill from there, until you end up where we are today, with what was supposed to be a narrow ban on shouting fire in a crowded theater, morphing into a carte blanche to ban essentially any speech some political hack can rile up his sycophant army to take offense at.

  • avatar
    stingray65

    The problem with government officials is that they tend to think in linear fashion as in: see how much progress we have made since 2011 – if we continue on that line we will hit 54.5 with no problems at all. What they seldom consider is that the low hanging fruit gets plucked first. We have gone from 4-6 gear autos to 8-10 gears, but I doubt you will get the same benefits by continuing to 15-18 gears. Same with turbos – going to the electric variety will likely make a much smaller reduction in fuel consumption. Drag coefficients are already well below .3, and it seems unlikely we can get much better while still leaving room inside the car for people, cargo, and drivetrains. Then you factor in the higher energy content required to manufacture aluminum bodies, hybrid/electric batteries, etc. and you end up losing a lot of the projected energy use/emission reductions from driving during the vehicle’s life. Follow this up with rebound effects from the fuel savings based low cost of driving and people are likely to choose bigger cars (22 mpg from an F-150 is good enough – why penalize myself by driving a Fiesta) and drive more because it is so darn cheap operate. The end result is that vehicles use less than half the fuel they did a generation ago, but per capita energy use has hardly dropped at all.

  • avatar
    Jimal

    If only this were ultimately about saving the consumer (tax payer) money. More efficient vehicles and vehicles that don’t burn fuels means less gas tax revenue. Gas taxes are going to go up and they’re already looking at alternatives to the per-gallon gas tax model. The end result is no net savings to the consumer.

    Just like my local utility, which aggressively promoted energy conservation measures, then had to raise generation and distribution rates because those conservation measures reduced the amount of money they were bringing in.

    • 0 avatar
      Yesac13

      The utilities promoted energy conservation measures largely for one reason:

      So they don’t have to upgrade the infrastructure! With people using less energy, the old infrastructure has it’s life extended. With that, they did not increase prices as much like if they had to upgrade the infrastructure.

      I’m not going to defend the utility model, it’s kinda rotten at this point. But just pointing out that you would have had to pay even more if no energy conservation was done. The electricity infrastructure in the US is generally 40 years old which is amazing (amazing that it still works ok, replacement is really overdue now).

      • 0 avatar
        Lou_BC

        Yesac13 – the other factor is the explosion of electronic devices. A lot of conservation just shifts the demand from heating your home to powering your electronic gizmos. As you have pointed out, conservation reduces the need to invest in extra infrastructure but it allows the electrical power to be sold out of province to other users. In my part of the world peak electricity occurs in the winter. If I use less in the winter I definitely will use less in the summer. That means more power to be sold for a profit elsewhere.

    • 0 avatar
      redav

      I support reduced fuel use as a means of national energy independence and reduced trade deficit.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    If EVs comprise 3% of sales by 2025, that will have been a tripling in 10 years, which seems realistic at such low volume.

    • 0 avatar
      redav

      I don’t know about tripling in less than 10 yr. The trend doesn’t seem poised to ramp up until after a variety of affordable 200 mi range EVs hit the market, and I expect that to be closer to 2025. I do think there will be a knee-point in sales just before the deadline, but I don’t think it will be soon enough to reach 3%.

      Two percent seems doable, though.

  • avatar
    yamahog

    CAFE is such a bunch a bologna. The footprint / MPG relation makes sense but incentivizes the creation of bigger footprints as much as it incentivizes getting better MPGs. The E85 rule is total bologna. And the EPA test procedure for manual transmissions (that every car uses the same shift points except for some conditions) underrates manual powertrains around the city. Also, it doesn’t give enough fuel economy credit to start/stop systems.

    Look at Toyota – they’re CAFE 2025 compliant on their imported passenger cars because the cars they import are primarily low volume Lexuses and every hybrid (except the camry hybrid). tThey’re CAFE 2020 compliant on their domestic car fleet. They sell their surplus credits to other automakers and use them to cover their remarkably inefficient trucks and BOF SUVs. It’s dumb policy to say “Oh Toyota you sell some Priuses so it’s okay your Tundra can struggle to get 20 mpg on a downhill freeway at 55 mph” and then turn around and say “Yo Chrysler we’re willing to bankrupt you on CAFE fines for your 25 mpg Jeeps and RAMs.”

    • 0 avatar
      Pch101

      There is no incentive to create larger footprints. You may have read that here, and unfortunately, TTAC got that story wrong.

      The net result of CAFE 2.0 is to encourage weight reduction and technological innovation to coax higher MPG out of a given vehicle type. Instead of classifying PT Cruisers as trucks to offset the V8 guzzlers, you end up with aluminum F-series trucks with turbo 6’s, Chevys with cylinder deactivation and Rams with turbodiesels. (One flaw of CAFE is that equates diesel MPG with gas MPG; it would be wiser to use CO2 measurements, which inherently account for the differences between the fuels.)

      The only aspect of this that is correct is that there is some incentive to increase the GVWR of some of the heavy duty vehicles so that they don’t have to comply with CAFE. (Those end up under a different regulatory program.)

      • 0 avatar
        Scoutdude

        Yup and mfgs are using that. Ford discontinued the 1/2 ton Econoline in 2006 and simply renamed the lowest E250 GVW E150. GM discontinued their 1500 series vans. Sure they publicly stated that it was to make more room for the Canyado twins but the fact is they did it to remove their vans from their CAFE mix. You go into a GM dealer to buy a 1500 van and you can bet your bottom dollar the salesman will tell you everything he can to send you home with a 2500.

      • 0 avatar
        yamahog

        You’ve mixed up the Government’s cheer leading and facts.

        Go look at the cafe regulations and you’ll see that CAFE standards for a given vehicle are driven by two things: model year and vehicle footprint. A 2008 Fit wouldn’t be CAFE 2025 compliant as a small car, but if you could stretch it out a few feet, it would be cafe compliant.

        Tell me – why is CAFE a better way of reducing fuel consumption than a gas tax. And tell me why CAFE matters when we have emissions standards and relatively cheap / accessible gas and electrics breathing down our necks.

        • 0 avatar
          Pch101

          No, I understand the legislation and you don’t.

          You may as well argue that being handicapped is an advantage because you get to park closer to the store. Of course, that’s absurd, because it’s still more difficult to get to the store due to the inherent disadvantage of the handicap.

          CAFE allows trucks to burn more fuel for obvious reasons — they pretty much have to. There is no way that a full-size pickup could possibly achieve the fuel economy of a subcompact.

          At the same time, the regulations force the automakers to make more changes to those trucks in order to comply.

          This is why you are seeing far more effort being invested into improving the fuel economy of pickup trucks than is being made for regular passenger cars. The legislation is designed to do just that — everyone knows that the trucks are low-hanging fruit, while there isn’t much more that can be done with subcompacts.

    • 0 avatar
      Big Al from Oz

      yamahog,
      You are correct, the problem is US manufacturers are geared up for large vehicle manufacture. This is supported by a raft of regulatory controls and tariffs. The companies are very reliant on the controls.

      The cost of changing over to smaller vehicle production and the length of time it will take to alter consumer behaviour is challenging for the US auto industry.

      So, the manufacturers will whine and cry about CAFE expectations.

      • 0 avatar
        yamahog

        I don’t disagree but there’s a bifurcated market. Some people buy the most car they can afford and others don’t.

        You can option up a smaller, non-luxury to cost more than a medium sized SUV and that’s no accident.

  • avatar
    ttacgreg

    If I were king, it would be gas taxes. They would absolutely be used to improve roads and nothing else. The two tiered CAFE that treats cars and trucks differently encourages a larger difference between cars and light trucks. Eliminate that and I would bet cars would grow somewhat in average size, and trucks would shrink.

    A certain past president proposed a BTU tax on fossil fuels. which would have encouraged better “MPG” of the whole economy. Of course it did not stand a chance. Perhaps “GDPPG” Gross Domestic Product Per Gallon” would be a better term. Years ago I read that Japan’s economy generates far more wealth per unit of fossil fuel used than the USA.

    I am a firm proponent of doing more with less as a general principle. It is a hallmark of sophistication and high technology.

    • 0 avatar
      TrailerTrash

      Ah yes…the sacred gas tax.

      So often I have tried to explain this shell game to the ever so willing to give the government more tax power.

      Once again…does anybody here remember back when the lotto was first introduced? Or the words and promised by the government to get it through?

      It was going to end our education money issues. The money would go towards the schools.

      OK. We did it. We approved the lotto and waited to see our school funding solved.

      It DID NOT HAPPEN! The government moved the shells. It took monies already taxed for the education of our kids and spent it elsewhere on other government programs they liked. Suddenly we had the same old school under funded issues all over again.

      The government steals money from programs and uses it elsewhere…wherever it wants to.

      If you lovers of the MORA GAS TAX promise with YOUR LIVES the money would STAY as promised and used for the infrastructure…then maybe. But it has never happened and you would likely find a way to back out from you promised punishment.
      Leaving us with still higher taxes.

      • 0 avatar
        redav

        Also, better infrastructure reduces real-world fuel use by preventing congestion & total miles driven. “Better infrastructure” doesn’t mean more lanes. Rather, when housing & employment align, people have shorter commutes and generate less traffic. Less traffic is generated by unending road construction (in part to low standards that low budgets can afford). Build a better road system and people will consume less gas using it.

  • avatar
    DenverMike

    Bigger/thirstier trucks, SUVs, muscle cars, etc, are already “discouraged” by the price of admission, poorer MPG, etc.

    Why fukk with a fairly balanced system that systematically points car buyers, and car makers in the right direction? Ultimately, and up to a certain or reasonable point, most anyone can own and drive what ever their heart desires in America. Perhaps having to buy ‘used’, but still.

    Now that in itself may be discouraging to some folks outside of North America, or here stuck driving a penalty box, and somehow feel they got ‘shorted’. But that’s a *them* problem.

    Besides, bigger/thirstier vehicles aren’t bought for or used for driving lots of commuter miles, as far as you know. If so, that’s on them. But I’ll tell you what a fuel sipping econo box encourages, that’s driving lots and lots of miles.

    Driving a bigger vehicle may actually encourage driving lots more efficiently, combining as many tasks and errands on a single trip.

    But if there’s not a lower bar, or separate tier for “trucks”, would they even be possible? Think about it… OK, in the meantime, remember EU regs make concessions for larger vehicles too, except it’s heavier vehicles getting a break, not larger “footprints”. But it amounts to the same common stinkin’ sense.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    I don’t like any Government intervention but that will never happen. I don’t want to give the Government any other excuse to raise taxes if they are going to waste the additional revenue. I wouldn’t mind if the fuel tax were increased by 10 to 25 cents a gallon only if the increase were designated for road and bridge construction and repair and not for bike and walking paths. Let people drive what they want to drive and if they cannot afford to drive a vehicle that is less efficient then they should not buy it. Let the CAFE standards stand as they are, at least most of the manufacturers will adapt to them. Don’t give the Government any more latitude to increase taxes or come up with additional taxes which they will spend like a drunken sailor.

  • avatar
    Jacob

    Okay then! See you in a Prius a few years from now! Get used to a fake fly-by-wire brake pedal. Take care.

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