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While Congress passed the first increase in corporate average fleet fuel economy (CAFE) in 32 years way back in 2007, there was a lot left undeclared in that bill. Two years ago, the agreement was made that CAFE would rise to 35 mpg by 2020, but just how and when that would happen was not set in stone. This past January, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said that the Obama Administration and the Department of Transportation "are poised to move quickly on new fuel economy standards for passenger cars and light trucks." Quickly meant two months, apparently.

The Obama Administration announced today that, for the 2011 model year, the new standard for cars and light trucks will be 27.3 mpg. For cars, the average is 30.2; the number for trucks is 24.1. The combined number is an increase of two miles per gallon (eight percent) compared to the 2010 model years, but most automakers will not need to change their product lineup just yet. In fact, the average fuel economy for new cars was 31.3 mpg in 2007. While this year is a bit of a reprive, the 35 by 2020 requirement means that future increases could be harder to meet. NHTSA says that the 27.3 number will "save about 887 million gallons of fuel and reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 8.3 million metric tons." The DoT is already working on the timetable for increases in the following years, LaHood said. You can download the new rule here (PDF link).

[Source: NHTSA, Bloomberg, Green Car Advisor]
Photo by ricardodiaz11. Licensed under Creative Commons license 2.0.


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  • 5 Comments
      • 6 Years Ago
      reading the PDF I still do not see any thing that actually "closes" the loop hole that allows makers to sell people carriers that are classed as trucks BUT used as cars other than that 2X4 models will dissapear
      More "long live the tahoe"

      harlanx6
      • 6 Years Ago
      They'll whine a little, but they won't have any trouble meeting the 2020 standard. In fact without the standard that level of fuel economy would likely have been met for economic reasons alone. People will object using past performance as their example, but you can't really judge the future by the past. Things are changing too quickly.
        • 6 Years Ago
        @harlanx6
        I have to agree. The CAFE standards have been overcome by events and manufacturers may well meet them with few changes in vehicle technology and design, just changes in the mix of vehicles built and selection of smaller engines and more efficient transmissions.
      • 6 Years Ago
      That dash reminds me of my 1965 mustang... I remember the 9 miles to the gallon in town...
      • 6 Years Ago
      I'm glad to see that on p. 774 of the linked PDF that there's a plan to phase out the flex-fuel curve that allows stuff like flex fuel Suburbans to be counted as high-20 mpg vehicles for CAFE purposes. The current rules assume flex-fuel vehicles run on E85 50% of the time and I believe only count the petroleum used for the E85 mileage portion. As such, flex-fuel vehicles have really high CAFE ratings, even though their gas mileage on E85 is actually LOWER than on gas. Not to mention all of the issues associated with corn ethanol.

      On top of that, manufacturers gets to use the old, higher EPA rating system for CAFE MPG instead of the newer, lower more realistic ratings.

      I think CAFE should use the same EPA ratings that the consumer gets instead of inflated figures that benefit the manufacturers. It irks me that the manufacturers get these big computational boosts in CAFE mileage and then whine about not being able to meet slightly improved mileage requirements. When their passenger car fleets have to really average 30mpg (current EPA combined rating), then I might listen to their wolf-cries about difficulties making further improvements.