By on October 13, 2017

fuel gauge

A bipartisan pair of congressional representatives from Michigan are proposing a new bill, the Fuel Economy Harmonization Act, that would aid automakers in complying with federal fuel efficiency requirements. Introduced on Wednesday, the bill would extend the life of fuel economy credits that are set to expire in five years and raise the ceiling on transferrable credits between car and truck fleets. Under the proposal, manufacturers could also be given additional credits for lowering fleet-wide emissions under new metrics.

Penning the bill, congresspersons Fred Upton (Republican) and Debbie Dingell (Democrat) said they believed the automotive industry would benefit from having a single set of fuel rules. The bill suggests rolling the NHTSA’s Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) and the EPA’s light-duty vehicle Greenhouse Gas Emissions mandates into one cohesive program.

While economy mandates have been growing, nationwide fuel consumption has still gone up. Likewise, the average mpg of cars sold in the United States hasn’t changed much over the last three years. With pump prices remaining low, consumers have flocked to less-efficient models like crossovers and SUVs. 

According to Reuters, the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers lauded the bill for “recognizing the consumer benefits that can come from better alignment of government programs.”

Not everyone is thrilled with the proposal, however. The Union of Concerned Scientists suggested the proposal, and a similar bill introduced by Republican Senator Roy Blunt, would allow manufacturers to make vehicles that are on average 3 miles a gallon less efficient by 2021. The union has also been critical of the Trump administration’s current review of efficiency standards. It believes that, once the assessment period ends, the president will press for a rollback — even though there has already been one.

The Obama’s administration finalized fuel standards in 2012 to double the average fuel economy of manufacturer fleets to 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025. However, the EPA later revised that target to 51.4 mpg due to rising truck sales.

Metrics aside, the new harmonization bill would address conflicts between the NHTSA and EPA’s individual programs. Established under the Obama administration, the Greenhouse Gas Emissions program was intended to be managed in tandem with CAFE. But the EPA currently has more punitive power than the Department of Transportation — giving its rules the higher priority.

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42 Comments on “Proposed Legislation Would Make it Easier for Automakers to Meet Efficiency Requirements...”


  • avatar
    a5ehren

    Equalizing the CAFE and EPA standards seems like a no-brainer.

    • 0 avatar
      Big Al from Oz

      a5ehren,
      I agree and I’ll go further, remove CAFE completely. Increase fuel tax and that will alter mpgs.

      A rise in the price of fuel will not make it more expensive in the medium and longer term to own and operate a vehicle. People will gradually buy vehicles that will cost the same to operate with less fuel.

      Gradually indexing a fuel rise each year of 2% over 15 years will be enough to allow for people to run V8s if they want one and put money into the coffers for road infrastructure maintenance and expansion.

      I read the other day that one of Trumps visions he had was to pump one trillion dollars into transport infrastructure. This is not possible due to the methods he wanted to employ in getting the money (I suppose he wanted to use a model similar to how he went bankrupt financing his real estate).

      I do believe this is best all round solution to improving FE in the US and having money to throw back into the roads and if enough money is had some subways in the larger cities.

      • 0 avatar
        Big Al From 'Murica

        I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I don’t disagree. However I believe this is a nonstarter in the US political environment.

        • 0 avatar
          Lorenzo

          A higher gas tax to rebuild transportation “infrastructure” will sell in Congress. Where else is Trump going to get the $trillion for his rebuild bridges and roads promise?

          The highway trust fund doesn’t collect enough money to maintain what we’ve got and higher fuel economy doesn’t help. The only danger is diversion to bus and trolley subsidies to get enough votes.

          • 0 avatar
            DearS

            “A higher gas tax to rebuild transportation “infrastructure” will sell in Congress. Where else is Trump going to get the $trillion for his rebuild bridges and roads promise?”

            Ever heard of a printer.

  • avatar
    TW5

    The predicted result of CAFE 2025, originally 54.5mpg was revised to 51.4mpg to recognize a shift in sales mix towards CUVs. The rules have not been changed or rolled back, and Congress has not given any indication that they have the ability to revise or modify the augural standards during midterm review. Instead, consumers are reacting to low fuel prices and to the value propositions offered by manufacturers as part of CAFE 2016 compliance.

    Overall, CAFE 2025 is completely unrealistic. All of the low hanging fruit was harvested by the 110th and the Bush admin with CAFE 2016. The manufacturers cannot double fleet fuel economy in 8 years without undermining the current market.

    The harmonization bill is not going to fix anything. It will merely stop the auto industry from going into free fall by allowing the selling and trading of indulgences. Since the NHTSA will not allow the footprint regulations to be abolished, the reasonable course of action is to turn CAFE 2025 into CAFE 2030 or CAFE 2040. Then start working on rules like harmonization that will hopefully provide a stay of execution for various segments, like fullsize sedans and offroad vehicles.

    • 0 avatar
      Big Al from Oz

      TW5,
      How can the “old” FE limit be unrealistic? First up, what is really 54.5 CAFE mpgs in real life equate to?

      There are countries that already achieve the equivalent of 54.5 CAFE mpgs. So, it is realistic.

      • 0 avatar
        Lorenzo

        Aw, those countries have tiny people who weigh a pittance, and are too poor to have many car owners. There are pictures of ’em hanging onto the outside of buses, trucks, and trains, or riding bicycles. Try riding a bike from Chicago to Milwaukee in January. Those substandard countries are not an example for us, WE are the example for them!

      • 0 avatar
        TW5

        @ Al

        It would take too long to explain in depth so I will just provide the cliff’s notes. First, 54.5mpg CAFE is about 40mpg EPA. The only nation that could achieve 40mpg on the EPA cycle is Japan, the land of kei cars and hybrids. Other developed nations are probably all 20%-30% short of our regulations. The US car market will need to improve about 50%-70%, depending on the future sales mix. These are not realistic improvements in only 7 years. This was known when the regulations were written, but the auto industry was demoralized and begging for bailouts so they acquiesced to the nonsensical political demands of America’s eco-terrorists.

        Furthermore, the CAFE regulations per vehicle are determined by footprint (wheelbase x track). The footprint regulations create a paradigm where compact passenger cars and fullsize trucks are advantaged under the regs. Unfortunately, CAFE has a long history of pushing consumers from passenger cars into mid/fullsize light trucks. First was the pickup boom in the 80s, then the SUV boom in the 90s, and now we have the midsize CUV boom in this decade. In short, the changes in consumer preference caused by CAFE are not congruent with the sales mix demanded by CAFE. This will lead to an economic cataclysm in the auto market, hence the push for a system of indulgences to be installed without public knowledge or understanding.

        Really, just the changes in consumption caused by CAFE are enough to condemn the system. The move from fullsize V8 sedans to fullsize V8 trucks provided no real improvement in fuel economy. To make matters worse, CAFE killed the fullsize sedan which badly hurt the US automobile industry. A similar paradigm exists in CAFE 2025. As consumers move towards CUVs, they EPA will continue to downgrade the projected improvements in fleet fuel economy. Furthermore, the least compliant of all manufacturers is probably FCA (Jeep specifically). Another pillar of the American auto industry is under attack from loathsome liberal fools in DC.

        Same crap, different day.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    “Under the proposal, manufacturers could also be given additional credits for lowering fleet-wide emissions under new metrics.”

    Mild-hybrids and stop-start for everybody!

    • 0 avatar
      Big Al from Oz

      PrincipalDan,
      Why hybrids, there are plenty of ICE vehicles already that can achieve those figures.

      Remember, all will not be driving them as most will have enough to still afford to operate larger vehicles. Increase fuel tax.

      Allow anything you want to be able to be manufactured, so if you want drop a 6.2 V8 into a Canyon without being penalised.

      Australia and even Canada is an example of a system that allows those to still operate V8s and we pay more for fuel than the US.

      • 0 avatar
        Big Al From 'Murica

        There has to be a market though. Alot fewer people will check the 6.2 block if the cost to operate it goes up. Fewer people buy, so GM kills it. Maybe that’s OK or even the desired outcome, but it will represent a seismic shift for automakers selling in the US. Again, maybe not a terrible thing but it won’t be business as usual as you seem to suggest.

  • avatar
    I_like_stuff

    The state of WA is freaking out because too many people there drive fuel efficient cars. And what happens when they do that? They buy less gas. Which means they pay less in gas tax. Which means the govt has to find another way to confiscate its citizens money. If you drive a 50 MPG Prius and you’re being a good little progressive…..oopise. You’re not paying your fair share to the bureaucrats. Womp womp.

    The latest hotness now is to tax cars by miles driven which will start next year. And with an added bonus that the state will track your vehicle everywhere it (and you) go with a spanking new GPS system installed in your car. Man that 4th amendment thingy was so last century. But they swear and cross their hearts that the data will never be shared with anyone. And since govt is always at the leading edge of data security and encryption, nobody will ever hack in and have access to that data either.

    Amazing how govt works. They beg and plead with people to be more fuel efficient. The people comply. And as a reward those same people are punished with more taxes and a loss of privacy.

    Only in America!

    • 0 avatar
      Rick Astley

      As a Washingtonian, I find it quite humorous that this state has to create new and exciting ways to generate transportation taxation yet has not shown the propensity to administer it’s infrastructure in any meaningful way or prevent burning through cash like a well-oiled cash burning machine.

      1) The nations 2nd highest state gasoline tax, at $0.44 1/2 per gallon (formerly the nations highest tax rate)

      2) Very high annual license tab tax (the formula for the first 5 years is comical with depreciation at about 5% the first year and maxing at 25% in year 5)

      3) A regional transit authority which has proven time and again that it will only vote for the single most expensive project which adds minimal capacity or reduces capacity.

      4) Passed a $54 BILLION dollar light rail program that only adds 62 miles of track (nearly a BILLION dollars per mile to lay train track? Can we fund private helicopter rides for less?)

      • 0 avatar
        qwerty shrdlu

        Not just laying track … buying land. I’ve never been to Washington, but any land owner anywhere who wouldn’t hold out and delay for as long as possible while the cost of buying him out keeps rising should be stuffed and put in a museum as a unique specimen.

      • 0 avatar
        stingray65

        Yes I’m sure that $54 billion for 62 miles passed careful economic and environmental scrutiny to ensure that it has a very short payback period from fare revenues (e.g. only few centuries), will require no outside subsidies from general funds (other than covering the costs of union employee contracts, management costs, and infrastructure maintenance), and take 50 to 75% of commuter cars off the road to reduce global warming by .0000000000000000015 F by the year 2350.

      • 0 avatar
        Big Al from Oz

        Rick,
        And what is the average income in Washington? Earlier in the year it was $2.56 a gallon for gas. That ain’t bad. I do know in Florida it was around $2.19 when I visited.

        But, even at $2.56 with a relatively high wage compared to places like even Florida makes your comment sound silly. Western Washington roads were on par with Florida roads as well.

        I was spending around $35 per week for fuel, in Florida I would of spent what $28? I don’t think there is much in it. Yeah, you pay more, but how much in reality?

    • 0 avatar
      brn

      I can appreciate taxing by miles driven instead of gas consumed, but the GPS solution is far too invasive. Other solutions need to be found.

    • 0 avatar
      dwford

      Yes, the government pays people to use less gas (with EV and hybrid subsidies), then cries poverty when people actually use less gas.

      • 0 avatar
        Lorenzo

        The same thing has happened with electricity. All the compact fluorescents and LEDs have cut consumption, and utility companies have raised rates to compensate. Part of that is the switch to natural gas over cheaper coal, but electric utilities like it because they can turn on generators for peak loads faster, and the fuel is piped in, not delivered by rail, eliminating the need for storage.

    • 0 avatar
      HotPotato

      Meh. I loathe per-mile tracking on principle…but when my wife found out how much money she could save by letting the insurance company plug a GPS into her car’s OBD port and bill her only for actual miles driven, she went for it. I suspect some citizens will feel the same about taxes as she did about insurance: paying less is good, done. Others will see the debate as pointless given that the automaker already tracks them through onboard telematics anyway.

    • 0 avatar
      Big Al from Oz

      I like stuff,
      I don’t know what part of Washington State you are talking about. All my friend and myself living on Whidbey Island for a while see a different Washington.

      HDs, 1/2 ton pickups and large SUVs seem quite numerous, even in Seattle.

  • avatar
    redapple

    Long comments wear me out. I ll be short.

    1- somebody! can i see a study on gallons/year saved with the shitty evil start/Stop?
    2- Can I see a research about wells to wheels impact of ethanol?
    3- END EPA MPG requirements. Tax fuel – but not as severely as Sweden.

    The level of BS is too much.

    • 0 avatar
      Lorenzo

      I’m not sure consumers save much with start/stop tech. It must have a great effect on the formulas for fuel economy to make it worthwhile for carmakers.

      I’m also not sure there’s any government-funded research on ethanol either. It’s a political decision, not a scientific or efficiency one, so science and efficiency don’t matter. The plant-to-wheels calculations i less important than the issues of turning food into fuel, and using up precious drinkable water.

      I agree that CAFE, with it’s formulas that can be gamed, is useless. Just tax fuel enough to keep the roads and bridges in good shape, and let the public decide what it wants. The government is not in business to encourage or discourage personal behavior through taxation, just collect enough to pay for necessary functions.

  • avatar
    Hummer

    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=hbJInn7wF6M

    That Debbie?

    Color me unimpressed with Upton as well.

    The bill is only as good as those sponsoring it. The best solution is to dismantle what exists and start new. Otherwise your piling bureaucracy on top of bureaucracy.

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      “The best solution is to dismantle what exists and start new. ”

      Or…… dismantle what exists and don’t replace it. Let consumer demand determine what flies and what doesn’t.

      Plenty of changes coming to life as we know it in America. You can’t miss it. The news is full of it.

      So far, little, if any, of these changes have affected the US auto industry but I have no doubt that eventually changes will be implemented that will directly impact the US auto industry.

      One of the first changes will be the outcome of the NAFTA renegotiations, first with Canada, and then, separately, with Mexico.

      “Efficiency Requirements” pale by comparison to changes within NAFTA.

  • avatar
    jacob_coulter

    “A bipartisan pair of Michigan state representatives….”

    The representatives aren’t Michigan state reps, they’re Congressional representatives.

    Regardless, the upcoming CAFE standard is absolutely nuts and both sides of the aisle realizes this. Unless you want to bankrupt the Big 3 (2 of which the taxpayer bailed out not that long ago) you’ll either scrap CAFE (my preference) or make considerable reforms to the point of irrelevance (more likely). Electric vehicles will eventually take over anyway, why burden consumers and automakers in the meantime?

    A Prius c get an average mpg of 45.5. You expect the entire fleet to hit 54.5 average mpg in under 10 years? It’s absurd.

    • 0 avatar
      Big Al from Oz

      Jacob coulter,
      Bankrupt the Big 3? They have for years had their cash cows protected, pickups.

      I do believe the Big 3 need to be spoon feed for much longer, they need to grow up and look the world in the eyes and start producing exportable products.

      • 0 avatar
        Big Al From 'Murica

        But it was the Government that pushed everyone to pickups and SUVs via the unintended consequences of CAFE. I’m not saying broughamy vehicles would still be the thing, but Americans were happy with large cars. Regulation made it more profitable to sell them a large truck or SUV.

        If I could get a big, roomy car that could pull a few thousand pounds and had really headroom in the back (not the sloped BS every large car now has) I probably would. My truck’s drivetrain in such a vehicle, even if it had the aerodynamics of say, a last gen Town Car combined with all the lightweight tech today should easily push it over 30mpg (the truck averages 22).

        But such cars are gone. As such I do what many other American’s do and buy a truck.

        • 0 avatar
          Big Al from Oz

          Those consequences of CAFE was not unintended.

          The manufacturers knew and even sold large vehicles back when CAFE was born.

          Even back in the 60s and 70s a pickup, even a single cab was used as a second vehicle.

  • avatar
    John

    Title is disingenuous – the proposed legislation wouldn’t make it easier for automakers to meet the fuel efficiency requirements, it would make it
    easier for automakers to skirt the fuel efficiency requirements.

    • 0 avatar
      golden2husky

      Exactly. But the rules now are skewed to throw a bone to pickups, hence Detroit. I’d be ok with a real scientific approach that was free of political freebies.

      The standards as they sit now are dead. Why? Anything with the name Obama associated with it is on the Narcissist in Chief’s hit list. Obsessed with anything Obama, T-Rump wants it out. Regardless of what it is. And especially with anything that is designed with the environment in mind.

  • avatar
    slavuta

    “Union of Concerned Scientists” – surely a phony “union” containing a few house-moms with online university degrees, who read an article or two.

    • 0 avatar
      stingray65

      Yes the UCS are the ones that always find any new emission and fuel regulations, no matter how crazy or severe, will only cost consumers $1.98 over the life of vehicle and let rosebuds bloom out of every tailpipe. They have no concept of economics or science, only leftist politics.

      • 0 avatar
        HotPotato

        Empirical data has no politics. The scariest goddamned thing in America today is this anti-elitism: “if your findings disagree with my politics, I’ll just plug my ears and call you a nerd/lefty/cuck/whatever.”

        • 0 avatar
          stingray65

          Scientists with a political agenda are not practicing science. Any scientist that is “concerned” about achieving some particular outcome has to be biased, when instead they should be doing everything possible to be “arms length” objective and following the data where ever it leads.

        • 0 avatar
          slavuta

          “The scariest goddamned thing in America today is…” marching socialism. These “scientists” already got caught on making up numbers.

  • avatar
    DenverMike

    To all the snivelers, whiners and the idiots suggesting raising the fuel tax, suck on it, this is America.

    The majority rules here. Yes with all the consequences related. Think of the 2nd Amendment. Freedom of Speech and various other. Except there’s specific limits, balances to all these rights.

    But if you want to commute to your office desk job in a Peterbilt, and have the “deep pockets” necessary, nothing is preventing you.

    Most every new “car” sold today is a “truck”, cute CUV to the mighty F-450 pickup. Yes partly “the consequences” of CAFE, “blah-blah-blah”.

    Although if you want absolutely nothing to do with guns and hate “trucks” and truck owners altogether, please do us all a HUGE favor and invoke your right to remain silent.

    And again, suck on it.

    • 0 avatar
      Big Al from Oz

      Just a little under half is the majority from the last election count.

      Maybe you people who live in a Winnepeg apartment with 20 pickups think this is half.

    • 0 avatar
      Lorenzo

      The majority doesn’t “rule”, it governs within constitutional limits. The gasoline user tax was meant to finance building and maintenance of the roads, and it now doesn’t provide enough. There will have to be a higher rate, or alternative source to keep roads in good repair.

      You’ve seen words on semi’s stating “this truck pays $XXXX dollars in road use taxes.” Chances are it damages roads by a higher amount. You can raise their rates, but nearly everything will cost more with higher freight charges. Maybe heavier personal vehicles should pay more too?

      One way or another, road pavement and bridges will have to be repaired or replaced. Somebody will have to pay for that, one way or another. The payer will probably include people who tell others to “suck on it.”

      • 0 avatar
        DenverMike

        Yes I’m OK with my taxes at the pump staying the same. If you don’t, chances are you’re calling from Europe or moving there soon. If so, enjoy.

        Paying more, doesn’t guarantee we’ll get more, just more crap on where the money all go diverted to instead.

        Urban sprawl and lack of meaningful “public transportation” was sponsored by the *promise* of cheap fuel, early in the 20th century.

        Yet anyone can own a tiny 1.2 liter car or EV if they wish. I’m squarely in the BAFO Camp when it comes to “choices”, or some would say “freedoms”.

        If you want to live in a McMansion, the biggest one in your subdivision, just you, your wife and 3 dogs, go for it, I won’t judge. OK just a little.


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