Feds Decide to Cut Automakers Some Slack Over Fuel Economy Penalties

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky
feds decide to cut automakers some slack over fuel economy penalties

Government regulators have heard the auto industry’s plea for clemency pertaining to the United States’ corporate average fuel economy (CAFE).

Responding to a petition from industry groups, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is putting the brakes on a planned increase in penalties for not complying with CAFE standards. Automakers won’t have to worry about their 2015, 2016 and 2017 model-year vehicles anymore, as the penalties will now begin with 2019 models.

According to Automotive News, NHTSA states that the postponement reflects “the reality that manufacturers design their products far in advance.”

NHTSA will also craft a more rigid rule-making process that should assist in sorting out the differences between the greenhouse-gas emission standards imposed by the EPA and the fuel-economy standards defined by the NHTSA. Automakers, understandably, want to ensure that they will not be penalized under one set of rules for attempting to comply with another.

A law passed last year pushed federal agencies to update their civil penalties, or risk having the impact eroded by inflation. That ruling increased CAFE retribution from $5.50 to $14.00 for each 0.1 mpg that an manufacturer failed to meet, multiplied by the total number of vehicles sold that year. The figure could cost a major automaker millions, even if they fall short of the target by the 0.1 mpg minimum.

While automakers with thirsty fleets could buy credits from other companies to stay in compliance, the penalty increase applied to vehicles that were already available for purchase. Many of the vehicles were on the market before the fuel economy standard had even been established.

The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers wasn’t happy, calling the move “draconian” and suggesting that it that would make a 54.5 mpg corporate average by 2025 impossible to achieve. Meanwhile, environmental groups continued to demand hard-hitting penalties to make noncompliance less of an option.

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  • Whitworth Whitworth on Dec 22, 2016

    I'm thinking we just get rid of the whole thing instead of exceptions and delays. This was always about just making bureaucrats feel good, the standards were unrealistic which is why they are backtracking now.

  • DearS DearS on Dec 22, 2016

    Worldwide emissions have stayed flat for 3 years. Cars and SUVs are a bit more fuel efficient in the U.S. I think this has been a big success, I think they need to ease off a little and be realistic. 35 real work MPGs may be more doable by 2025 or at least 30MPGs. http://phys.org/news/2016-11-average-fuel-economy-high-mpg.html

  • FreedMike Soon to be trending on Youtube: "Aftermarket supercharger F150 cars and coffee crash".
  • Lou_BC Vehicles tend to "soft fail" i.e. a component gradually wears to the point of complete failure. Sure, some rather abrupt failures occur but not typically in the steering, brakes, or wheel bearings.
  • MaintenanceCosts Curious about this number for certain Toyotas, particularly the Sienna and RAV4 Prime. Both still seem to be almost unobtanium, especially in fully loaded configurations, a couple years after their introduction.
  • 2ACL Giving a lay pickup 500+ horsepower never resonated with me. Even in a straight line, you'll still get thrashed by less powerful cars because they don't need to push as much air. And you're typically speed limited into the low 100 mph range because so little of the truck is engineered to go that fast.Think I'll get my dumb speed fix elsewhere.
  • Lou_BC VW has had a stellar reputation with their electronics and now they go full EV. What's not to like? ;)