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This afternoon, the energy bill that requires 35 mpg by 2020 CAFE handily passed Congress. After passing in the Senate last week, the first increase in average fleet fuel economy in 32 years sailed through the House of Representatives 314-100. The auto industry's best friend in Congress, Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich., "was key to a compromise on vehicle efficiency increases," as the AP put it. As we mentioned, part of that compromise meant stripping out tax provisions for renewable energy requirements and the elimination of new incentives for plug-in hybrid vehicles. Oil companies were also spared higher taxes. President Bush has said he will sign the bill.

The new CAFE standard is part of a broad energy bill and includes a massive boost to ethanol producers. As the AP reports:

In a dramatic shift to spur increased demand for nonfossil fuels, the bill also requires a six-fold increase in ethanol use to 36 billion gallons a year by 2022, a boon to farmers. And it requires new energy efficiency standards for an array of appliances, lighting and commercial and government buildings.

With the negotiations over, the auto industry now needs to get all of their wonderful concepts out of the auto shows and onto the roads. Thirteen years should be plenty of time, even in the notoriously slow auto industry. They'll need to work hard, based on the number of cars we can buy today that will offer 35 mpg - not many.

[Source: AP]


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  • 15 Comments
      • 6 Years Ago
      This CAFE law really gets my head spinning. As we can see, it's not too difficult to get 35 mpg from a vehicle made in 1984. The Geo Metro was a good seller too that got stupid mileage. As many of you have commented, this new law is not that amazing at all.

      When I first read about it, I though; "wow, finally all these big SUVs will either go away or step up to the plate!"
      But if it is average economy through a whole fleet of vehicles, that is not going to change anything.

      I do feel however, this will still make GM make some serious decisions regarding the Hummer line. The H2 get average economy of 10- 12 mpg. So will they absorb the Hummer line into a different line or will they produce some lame vehicle under the hummer badge?

      Chrysler is developing an EV Wrangler that goes its initial 40 on electric energy alone then runs a fuel generator to produce the energy for the electric drive system...

      Still, something is really fishy!
      • 6 Years Ago
      I think the changes don't go nearly far enough - mainly because improved engine technologies can easily double engine efficiency, and better aerodynamics can double the efficiency as well - plus regenerative braking, and newer materials. Enforcing the speed limits alone would add to the mileage standards attainable.. 36mpg is what my car currently gets (a 1984 Chevrolet Cavalier) on the highway - so where's the real improvement??
      • 7 Years Ago
      How will they calculate MPG for PHEV's?
      • 7 Years Ago
      Er, Tahoe/Yukon *hybrid*...
      • 7 Years Ago
      It was reported in the financial news on a NY radio station a few days ago that auto makers will not be required to actually sell low profit, high fuel mileage vehicles to achieve the new C.A.F.E. standards.

      The much heralded C.A.F.E. standards required by H.R.6 and just signed into law by the President will be calculated differently. Previously, the Corporative Average Fuel Economy was based on all the vehicles actually sold by a manufacturer. The new method, as requested by auto manufactures is based on an average of the models in a manufacturer’s line.

      Simple example:
      This change means that a 10 MPG vehicle could be offset by a 60 MPG “ringer”, thereby achieving the 35 MPG requirement of year 2020. The “ringer” could be a gussied up golf cart that nobody will buy or a very costly dream car that nobody will buy.

      The net result of this overlooked change is that there are no longer any fuel economy requirements. It’s no wonder the administration did not oppose this bill!

      It should be noted, had the EPA accepted the California CO2 restrictions, that would have negated the H.R.6 “requirements”.

      Documentation:

      (Old law) Full text of Energy Policy and Conservation Act (EPCA) 1975:
      http://www.nhtsa.dot.gov/cars/rules/cafe/legistlation.htm#
      (Old law) Simplified version:
      http://www.nhtsa.dot.gov/cars/rules/cafe/overview.htm

      § 32904. Calculation of average fuel economy:

      (a) Method of calculation.--(1) The Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency shall calculate the average fuel economy of a manufacturer subject to—
      (A) section 32902(a) of this title in a way prescribed by the Administrator; and

      (B) section 32902(b)-(d) of this title by dividing--
      (i) the number of passenger automobiles manufactured by the manufacturer in a model year; by
      (ii) the sum of the fractions obtained by dividing the number of passenger automobiles of each model manufactured by the manufacturer in that model year by the fuel economy measured for that model.

      (New law) Full text of H.R.6:
      http://frwebgate.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/getdoc.cgi?dbname=110_cong_bills&docid=f:h6enr.txt.pdf

      H.R.6 pg.8 Sec.102 reads in part:

      ‘‘(2) FUEL ECONOMY STANDARDS FOR AUTOMOBILES.—
      ‘‘(A) AUTOMOBILE FUEL ECONOMY AVERAGE FOR MODEL
      YEARS 2011 THROUGH 2020.—The Secretary shall prescribe
      a separate average fuel economy standard for passenger
      automobiles and a separate average fuel economy standard
      for non-passenger automobiles for each model year beginning
      with model year 2011 to achieve a combined fuel
      economy average for model year 2020 of at least 35 miles
      per gallon for the total fleet of passenger and non-passenger
      automobiles manufactured for sale in the United States
      for that model year.

      Happy motoring,
      Bill Herbert
      • 7 Years Ago
      Do they receive credit for the vehicle being flex fuel? The Volt will be flex fuel. I think this is used as a loophole currently. GM and others make lots of flex fuel cars and trucks, but there is hardly anywhere to buy E85. Thus, it's not an effective mitigating influence on oil consumption, unlike a plug-in. Frustrating, eh?
      • 7 Years Ago
      @6: What column are you guessing is the column used by CAFE?
      • 7 Years Ago
      Per my discussions with several people from GM a few weeks ago, PHEVs receive *NO* mpg credit for using electric under the bill. So the Volt would only get a CAFE credit of 50mpg.

      Personally, this is why I hate the bill.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Automakers will use newer transmissions with more gears, DI and turbocharged engine technology, and more carbon fiber ($$) to meet these standards.

      But since these technologies aren't free, can anyone tell me how much more the average Joe will have to shell out for a new car on average?

      And what about the fact that automobile price hikes due to the CAFE regs will mean fewer people buy New cars and more buy used cars instead? This will mean automakers will have to raise prices further in order to remain profitable. So how much more will an average car cost in 2020? Anyone? How about coupled with inflation?

      In 1970 7% of the population bought a new car each year. Currently, that figure is 5.4%, and declining. The reason for this is cars have, and are, becoming less affordable due to increased technology in them. New CAFE will certainly continue this trend of making cars less affordable, meaning automakers will sell less, and thus have to raise prices and make further job cuts.

      Make no mistake, the new fuel economy requirements will come at the expense of American jobs, and car affordability for the general public.
      • 6 Years Ago
      It takes a lot to get politicians to compromise on bipartisan measures such as this. Obvious skyrocketing oil prices and and the accompanying public outcry was enough to prompt both parties to pass this legislation.
      Hopefully we can get Republicans to improve their environmental voting record on a more regular basis, and not just on big obvious bills like this one.

      By the way---I referenced this post on my blog www.green-sexy.com for an article regarding the partisan nature of environmental votes. Thanks!
      • 7 Years Ago
      Wayne over at cleanmpg.com gave me some links to the unadjusted numbers used for CAFE calculation, hidden away on an obscure part of the EPA's fuel economy website. Remember that CAFE still uses the original MPG estimation methods developed in the 1970s, which were first adjusted downward for the 1985 model year, then again for 2008. The window sticker is way off from the CAFE regulation numbers.

      Anyway, for 2008, there are 57 models that exceed 35 mpg CAFE (though with badge-engineered cars and duplicates where the only difference is manual versus automatic transmission, you end up with something like 30 cars). I also linked the 2007 file which includes a few cars that haven't released an '08 model yet.

      Oh yeah, that Chevy Tahoe/GMC Yukon? It counts as 28.21 mpg for CAFE.

      http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/epadata/08data.zip
      http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/epadata/07data.zip
      • 7 Years Ago
      "Per my discussions with several people from GM a few weeks ago, PHEVs receive *NO* mpg credit for using electric under the bill. So the Volt would only get a CAFE credit of 50mpg."

      This might be a good thing as it prevents Detroit from using plugins as a legal loophole to drive their fleet MPG average down and keep making Hummers.
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