By on November 30, 2016

gas-pump-save-ftr

Fuel economy standards set by the Obama administration for the 2022 to 2025 model years will remain, the Environmental Protection Agency has stated.

The environmental regulator announced its proposed determination earlier today, part of its midterm review of the country’s corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) targets. Forget cheap gas and never mind the SUV craze — 54.5 miles per gallon is still the government’s goal.

While it still needs to make a final determination, it appears the EPA won’t be swayed by recent changes in the automotive landscape. The current targets were issued in 2012.

The regulator claims it made its determination after updating its analyses, consulting the industry and other stakeholders, and reviewing a technical assessment. More than 200,000 public comments flowed in from July’s draft technical assessment report (TAR).

In the TAR, the EPA, National Highway Traffic Transportation Administration (NHTSA) and California Air Resources Board (CARB) predicted that, on their present course, automakers would undercut the 2025 target. By its estimate, the country’s average gas mileage would only hit 50 to 52.6 miles per gallon by 2025.

Still, the regulators applauded automakers for adopting fuel-saving technologies. Smaller-displacement, turbocharged engines, stop-start systems, hybridization, direct injection and battery electric vehicles helped the industry make large strides towards the goal.

Lobby groups, especially the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, cried foul. Meeting the target meant an average of $1,800 tacked onto the sticker price of a vehicle, the Alliance claimed. The EPA disagreed, and now claims the actual cost is lower than it predicted in the TAR. According to the regulator, automakers and carbuyers can afford to reach the target.

“The auto industry can meet the standards primarily with advanced gasoline vehicle technologies and with very low levels of strong hybridization and full electrification (plug-in vehicles),” the determination reads.

The public comment period for the determination ends on December 30, 2016.

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55 Comments on “Nah, We’re Keeping our Fuel Economy Targets: EPA...”


  • avatar
    George B

    I predict that automobile manufacturers will aggressively game the system and the EPA will let them to save face. Just drove a 2.0 Ecoboost Ford Escape from Texas to Arizona and back last week and my frequent stops at the gas pump say that EPA “highway” test conditions must be very different from real-world highway conditions. Not bad to drive, but it sure was thirsty at actual highway speeds.

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      Yeah because the highway test was developed when the national speed limit was 55mph. Unfortunately they are locked into keeping that because CAFE is tied to those ancient tests. Do a new test that is based on today’s landscape and they would have to roll back those CAFE targets and the EPA is not willing to do that.

      • 0 avatar
        White Shadow

        That’s incorrect. Fuel economy ratings have been calculated for years now using several different drive cycles, one of which hits 80 mph. Just google “US06” to learn more.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    Yeah, well pinkos your whole world is about to change and edicts might change with it.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    I never liked that model Rogue. I hope it was just a rental.

    • 0 avatar
      gtemnykh

      FWIW My brother’s wife is up to 173k miles on her 2010 AWD “S” model (pretty bare bones, plenty of sidewall on those steel wheels). Of particular note is the fact that the car is driven through state gameland roads (okay-ish graded gravel with a few washboard sections, about 3 miles worth) half of the year as a shortcut on her commute, and a final half mile or so on more rutted gravel up to their house. The front hubs have been replaced at 130k and 140k (first one side then the other) from what I remember, and the rear swaybar bushings. It’s on the original CVT fill and transmission computer says it’s still good for more. I’d call that pretty solid. The rest of the suspension is as good as new. Oh she gets about 30-32 mpg in her back-road and highway commute.

      Very nice riding for the class IMO, feels like some of that French influence must have crept in. Better than average ground clearance, and an option to lock the viscous coupling for a 50/50 split at low speeds. Unapologetically cheap interior with limited cargo room and really poor rear visibility. But for the $16-17k you’d pay for a AWD “Select” one of these new, it’s a solid option for a foul weather commuter and runabout.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        Wow, I’m impressed. No CVT maintenance over all that time! Running costs for that must be about as low as you can go for a modern car, especially one with AWD.

        Probably a great used buy on a budget.

        • 0 avatar
          gtemnykh

          I’d say that in this particular case, new actually makes a lot of sense. My theory:

          They’re selling the Selects for blowout prices, and you get a new car warranty. Despite the rock bottom price on the “Selects,” they have the same resale as the other slightly older non-Select, higher-equipped Rogues. Additionally, these Rogues tend to be sold to some fairly non-chalant owners (or fleets) who treat them as throwaway cars so finding a clean used one might be difficult. I’d buy one new and run it into the ground (assuming you can tolerate that interior for that long lol).

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            (Could not tolerate!)

            But the wheel cover crowd is OK with sacrifice for new and some longevity, so more power to ’em.

  • avatar
    sirwired

    The article failed to point out that 54.5 CAFE MPG is not nearly the same as Window-sticker MPG. (Automakers and politically-inclined authors routinely forget to mention this when it serves their purposes.) Some readers may be aware of the difference, but not nearly all.

    The latest CAFE vs. “sticker” MPG for 2025 has the delta between the two at anywhere from 7-17MPG, depending on the class of car. And that doesn’t even count CAFE credits for various political B.S. like “Flex Fuel” vehicles.

    • 0 avatar
      George B

      It’s my understanding that a Ford Fusion Hybrid scores about 54 mpg on the CAFE test. This suggests that gas/electric hybrids would have to be a much larger part of the fleet to meet the standard without downsizing cars. Either batteries have to get much less expensive in 8 years or vehicles will need to be more expensive. I expect that we’ll see some combination of hybrids becoming less expensive and the CAFE requirement being delayed or scaled back.

      • 0 avatar
        yamahog

        I think we’re already seeing that. The Ford Fusion Hybrid and Avalon Hybrid are CAFE 2025 compliant. The 3rd gen Prius had a CAFE rating of about 70 mpg. It’s interesting how the Prius cars make it easy to sell so many SUVs with not great fuel efficiency.

        IIRC, the hybrid premium on a Camry used to be around $2500? Now, the hybrid premium on the Rav4 is less than $1000. I wonder what the premium will be in future Ford Escapes / Fusions / Camrys? It could be a really good thing for families. A family would be well served by a hybrid CUV / midsize sedan.

  • avatar
    ajla

    Considering that Hexxus is likely going to be head of the EPA in 2017, I have doubts this is set in stone.

  • avatar
    NoGoYo

    EPA Still Hates V8s and Freedom, more at 11.

  • avatar
    walleyeman57

    If the EPA had its choice, cars would be outlawed and we would all be riding the bus or our bicycles to work and play.

    Form the cars we are allowed to buy, lightbulbs we can use, food we can eat, to our healthcare and even the toilet we take a dump in our government works overtime (paid of course) to force us to choose not what is best for our own situation, but what they think we should have.

    For the good of the children of course.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      You get it.

    • 0 avatar
      Dawnrazor

      Fortunately it appears more and more folks are waking up to these facts.

      This transcends political affiliation of course (Nixon unleashed the EPA itself and Bush signed off on the light bulb regulations for example), but the election result is at least some evidence that folks are beginning to reject the idea of central planning by their “betters” in favor of a return to autonomy and freedom of choice.

      The EPA is probably the most malignantly misanthropic of all the regulatory agencies; literally every human activity has SOME impact on the environment, and they seem eager to control them all! I am not arguing that there should be NO regulations, but the current bureaucratic elitism needs to be swept away in favor of a more humanistic and less punitive approach, and they need much more accountability to our elected representatives, particularly with regard to implementing rules which directly and indirectly cost us (practically speaking, taxation without representation).

    • 0 avatar
      OldManPants

      Oh, so what?

      We ain’t got enough money to *do* anything with freedom, anyway.

      If we had the money, we’d have the freedom. Or as much as anyone’s gonna have as we rocket northward of 8 billion violent apes.

      So go make more money instead of kvetching on the interwebs.

      • 0 avatar

        You do not have money because you do not have freedom. It become chicken and egg problem. If you are internally free you will find a way to make money – example: Silicon Valley. Otherwise you will get salary or welfare. There was a time American were free and took risk. Now they rely on Government on everything – from what to drink to what to drive.

    • 0 avatar
      NoGoYo

      Let’s see those EPA goons get a ten speed through 4 inches of thick slushy snow.

      • 0 avatar
        Mandalorian

        Solid conservative here, I’ve been to some of the larger cities in China and breathed in the smog. The EPA is worth the sacrifice. Even notoriously smoggy LA doesn’t hold a candle to the nuclear winter of Beijing.

        However, squeezing relatively clean gas powered cars over a few mpg is the wrong way to go about it. EPA needs to focus its attention on diesels and factories.

        • 0 avatar
          George B

          Mandalorian, the legal basis for the EPA to set National Ambient Air Quality Standards for 6 criteria air pollutants is pretty solid. For cars that use gasoline, the big ones are ground-level ozone, nitrogen dioxide, and carbon monoxide. These are clearly pollutants congress wanted the EPA to regulate to reduce smog.

          It’s not as clear what specific law authorized the EPA to set fuel economy standards higher than the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007. The original purpose of CAFE was to improve the efficiency of cars so the US was less vulnerable to oil supply disruptions.

        • 0 avatar
          colin42

          They are focusing on Diesel. 0.02g/hp.hr or something close to it is likely to be next on highway regulation. EPA just recently announced phase 2 CO2 targets of on highway trucks as well.

      • 0 avatar
        afedaken

        While I do think the EPA lately does more harm than good…

        Try a fatbike! With the right setup, lots of snow can be done, and it’s more fun than you’d think.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    “Save the Whale”, “Children are Our Future”, “Goat Ropers Need Loving Too”

  • avatar
    whitworth

    If you actually think automakers are going to have an average fleet mpg of 54.5 in 8 years, I’ve got a bridge to sell you.

    It really doesn’t matter what these current bureaucrats think. In about 6 weeks, they will be gone and new people in charge.

    I’m guessing the head of Health and Human Services also says they plan to keep Obamacare.

    • 0 avatar
      sirwired

      Well, luckily they won’t need to have an average fleet MPG of 54.5 in eight years. CAFE MPG is not anywhere near window-sticker MPG (which is closer to reality.) A mid-sized hybrid can meet the CAFE MPG target today, and that’s even without CAFE credits for political stunts like Flex Fuel.

  • avatar
    Chetter

    What happens when the EPA is reduced to a desk and a rotary phone in a couple months?

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    They would have to go to the Smithsonian to find that rotary phone. I doubt if the EPA is going away anytime soon but it could be neutered.

    • 0 avatar
      Lorenzo

      There are plenty of rotary phones out there – I’ve got an old one myself. The problem is your landline’s switching system is 100% touch tone, so you need a converter to dial out. The rotary can also be made to work with a cable system phone setup or VOIP. Good luck with the pound key or asterisk, though an internet system may have a workaround.

  • avatar

    In other news: It is set in stone that Hillary Clinton will win election according the same sources.

  • avatar
    Duaney

    Possibly the Trump administration can reign in the EPA. I’ve mentioned before, in this same forum, dramatically increasing fuel economy of automobiles can lead to increased highway deaths. If the manufacturers have to reduce weight to extremes to achieve these MPH figures, occupants will have less mass there to protect them resulting in more injuries and deaths. The EPA has never taken responsibility for this. Previous dramatic downsizing has done this before.

    • 0 avatar
      colin42

      Duaney. Please provide a source for you claim for EPA regs causing increase in deaths from lighter smaller cars

      Death per million miles drive has been on average falling for decades

      http://www.caranddriver.com/features/safety-in-numbers-charting-traffic-safety-and-fatality-data

      • 0 avatar
        Lorenzo

        Provide a source for an internet comment? Is TTAC now a scientific journal?

        BTW, your link dates back to 2011. Here’s one from last February:

        http://www.newsweek.com/2015-brought-biggest-us-traffic-death-increase-50-years-427759

        • 0 avatar
          Lou_BC

          “Neither the sheer number of miles driven nor a change in population seem to fully explain the jump in 2015. Motor-vehicle mileage increased by 3.5 percent between 2014 and 2015. The annual mileage death rate in 2015 was 1.22 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles traveled, up 5 percent from the previous year. Meanwhile, the annual population death rate rose by 7 percent to 11.87 deaths per 100,000 people.”

          More data is required but part of that increase in death rate is due to miles driven. Miles driven is up 3.5% and deaths by car 5%.

          What is accounting for that 1.5% difference?

          We did see another news article stating that current restraint devices may not be adequately protecting the aging population of drivers.

          Heavier vehicles aren’t necessarily safer than lighter ones. IIRC the aluminum F150 has better crash ratings than its predecessor.

          • 0 avatar
            ToddAtlasF1

            Light vehicles can perform well in barrier crashes, where the force involved is a function of their own mass. They do less well in multi-vehicle accidents, where mass relative to other vehicles involved is significant. There was a test a number of years ago involving partial offset crashes between small and mid-sized cars from the same manufacturers that illustrated this point extremely effectively. I believe all the cars used were good performers in contemporary crash testing, but the midsized cars annihilated the small ones.

            http://www.iihs.org/iihs/news/desktopnews/new-crash-tests-demonstrate-the-influence-of-vehicle-size-and-weight-on-safety-in-crashes-results-are-relevant-to-fuel-economy-policies

          • 0 avatar
            delerium75

            Certainly smartphones, infotainment systems and consequently distracted driving is some part of that increase. Exactly what percentage, I don’t know but $5 says the true number (where the driver knows exactly what they were doing but didn’t cop to the truth) would likely make one go “wow.”

    • 0 avatar
      Truckducken

      Duaney, there is a game-changing factor afoot here: active safety systems. If vehicles suddenly get much better at avoiding collisions, this can reduce the significance of the mass-safety relationship. We’ll see if the crash test folks start to back off on their requirements if and when crashes decline (which apparently isn’t happening yet). We may be close to peak mass today.

    • 0 avatar
      alluster

      “I’ve mentioned before, in this same forum, dramatically increasing fuel economy of automobiles can lead to increased highway deaths.”

      Are you sure this is not due to the USB ports they keep putting in new cars? In 1936 none of the cars sold came with USB ports and the highway deaths were far fewer.

  • avatar
    Kendahl

    I’m sure any of the major automobile manufacturers can produce vehicles that meet the EPA’s gas mileage target. The question is whether those vehicles will satisfy consumers and whether they will be affordable. Very few people keep their cars until they are worn beyond the point of practical repairability. If they did, the used car market wouldn’t exist. If the EPA pushes too hard on emissions and the NHTSA on safety, buyers will opt to keep their old cars longer instead of trading them in on new ones. Both agencies might get their wishes on new vehicles but performance of the fleet actually on the road will change very little.

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