Porsche's forthcoming majority stake in Volkswagen has the potential to remove a CAFE-sized thorn from the automaker's side. After a failed bid in Congress to create an exemption for itself from the recently revised fuel economy standards, Porsche needed a way to increase its CAFE rating in the U.S. This might be achieved by combining Porsche and VW's emissions and fuel-economy numbers into one lump sum, thus preserving the automaker's performance heritage.
While this certainly isn't anything new – Ford does it with Mazda, despite a minority stake in the automaker, and Chrysler has done it in the past when it was part owner of Mitsubishi – Volkswagen's average in 2007 was 28.6 mpg, just over the U.S. mandated 27.5 mpg. If Porsche gets thrown into that average, it's obvious that number is going to sink, quickly. However, Volkswagen's plan for the future involves new smaller, fuel-sipping vehicles, like the up! and more diesel-powered vehicles that might bring the number back up, but maybe not enough to meet the 2020 standards of 35 mpg. Porsche execs deny that this was a deciding factor in the buyout, but considering that the gentlemen from Stuttgart have cut a few checks to the feds over the years ($5 million in 2001), we're sure the idea wasn't lost on them while making their bid.