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It's not all that often that you hear automakers cry out for stronger regulations and stricter guidelines. In fact, the cries typically go the other way, begging for less oversight and looser laws. So, when automakers band together suggesting changes to CAFE guidelines beyond 2016 that would take fuel economy figures to new heights, we should probably listen, right?

Both Ford and Toyota discussed their views for the future at the 2010 SAE World Congress last week. The words came flowing out and you are sure to be surprised by the gist of the conversation. Rather than focus on excuses explaining why guidelines can't be met or talking about additional costs that CAFE regulations add to vehicles, the two companies spoke of the need for an even greener tomorrow that starts with a national framework in place beyond 2016. Without additional regulations, the effort put into the development of new CAFE guidelines could all be lost if more is not done soon. As Tom Stricker, director of environmental technology for Toyota said:
We have some concerns the two sides could pull further apart. We're encouraging the state and national governments to continue to work together beyond 2016. They share climate goals, so a single national framework (on fuel economy) would make a lot of sense.
Bob Holycross, manager of environment and energy planning for Ford agreed by adding, "The priority has to be to assure the framework remains in place for 2017 and beyond."
But that's not all that was agreed upon. Many automakers at the conference encouraged the government to adopt additional standards to limit fuel consumption. Some examples include road-use fees and a carbon cap-and-trade policy. But the real shocker came when it was suggested that gasoline taxes should be raised, a proposition we have suggested for some time now, but one that's still unlikely to be a popular choice. Ford CEO Alan Mulally has supported a higher gas tax in the past, and it's nice to see the idea get a little more play.

[Source: Ward's Auto | Image: Richardmasoner - C.C. License 2.0]


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  • 36 Comments
      • 5 Years Ago
      One BIG thing you can do to help save gas is to eliminate the CAFE distinction between "light trucks" and cars.
      Right now, companies are building large amounts of smaller "crossovers" and "CUVs" and similar vehicles. Because these vehicles are based off SUV platforms, they are considered "trucks" and help to offset the emissions of all those bigger pickups and 4x4s and SUVs.

      If you eliminate the distinction, companies will have less reason to build the "crossovers" and "CUVs" and more reason to build station wagons (which have all the features the soccer-moms actually need in a car AND get better fuel economy than the SUV-derived "crossovers" and "CUVs")
        • 5 Years Ago
        I guess that's what we get when we (the voting public) allows our "representatives" to rubber stamp laws and regulations that were written by and for lobbyists? Maybe that's too cynical a view of the CAFE but probably pretty close to the mark on the gov as a whole if you ask me.

        By the way, here is the link about China's (far higher than our) "CAFE" standards. Their fleet standard *today* is 36.8 while the US CAFE for 2016 is 35.5 mpg.
        http://blogs.edmunds.com/greencaradvisor/2009/05/china-sets-422-mpg-fuel-efficiency-standard-as-it-seeks-to-curb-oil-consumption.html

        My point is that the US auto makers CANNOT be so stupid as to think that it's a good thing to be perpetually behind China in auto technology. They may want tougher CAFE so there is a "level playing field" and so they can't be blind sided by some other auto maker undercutting them on price once they've spent billions on updated ICE technology or electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Bring it.

      It's better to tether off gas slowly than hit $10/gal when the saudis start looking for shale and other crap oil too since they've run out of the good stuff.

      Now if i could only get someone to buy this BMW :P
      • 5 Years Ago
      "Cash for Gassers" ???
      • 5 Years Ago
      The cynical view would be - the automakers don't want California etc. to start requiring painful efficiency standards (like stuff with EV's etc.), so if we can just do it all through the Federal level where our lobbyists have alot pull and pre-empt the state regulations - we'd like that better. To make it look like we want to wean everyone off the ICE we're endorsing a fuel tax because we know its politically DOA in Washington and will continue to be that way.

      As far as getting those fuel costs back up to painful levels for the US consumer, fear not - even without a tax increase (which wouldn't happen in the foreseeable future) as we go back through $3 gallon this summer (we were just over $2 gallon last year), we should be looking at around $4 gallon next summer as the world economy picks up more steam, demand increases etc..

      World crude oil production has not significantly increased since 2005 (that's how you get to $4 gallon in 2008) and its never happened before. We're beginning to enter an era of oil supply constraint and taxes won't be needed to make gasoline prices "painful". The downside is that you'll have this whipsaw of price rises until they suck enough of the discretionary spending lifeblood from the economies that you have a recession (which would have happened from oil in 2008 if the financial collapse hadn't happened) resulting in oil demand destruction getting oil lower until things recover and it goes back up - rinse and repeat until your economy/society comes apart or you get off oil which runs through every part of the economy.
        • 5 Years Ago
        "The cynical view would be - the automakers don't want California etc. to start requiring painful efficiency standards (like stuff with EV's etc.), so if we can just do it all through the Federal level where our lobbyists have alot pull and pre-empt the state regulations - we'd like that better. To make it look like we want to wean everyone off the ICE we're endorsing a fuel tax because we know its politically DOA in Washington and will continue to be that way."

        That is exactly the first thing I thought, too, and I think it's not cynical, it's realistic. That's the one critical thing I didn't like about the new CAFE regs - no state is allowed to go higher before 2016.

        The other part of that whole multi-standard deal is this: the automakers instantly choose to sell cars of different specs to meet the minimum requirements of each state. Why blame the gov'ts for that? No government entity is forcing them to do so.

        As some states want to push the envelope, they have every right to. The market conditions change, so the automakers must learn to adjust.

        If they want their "single standard" cake and eat it, too, they should just pick the most stringent standard and sell it everywhere - saving money on different design specs, different parts (if additional exhaust after-treatments are needed), etc.

        They use their shortsighted choices to bullshit the rest of us into saying "yes, we agree with the automakers, one national standard!" so that they can buy off Congress and water down standards.

        The only good I see from the report in this article is this: since they aren't openly hostile to further increases, then they are at least realizing that these increases have been inevitable and it's no longer cost-effective to lobby Congress to stop them.
        • 5 Years Ago
        It's not quite so easy to create redundant specs just for the sake of different requirements. Build complexity is a focus for so many OEMs because it results in higher costs (and potential problems during development & manufacturing)... something that plays a part in the diminishing offerings of such features/tech as Manual Transmissions, not just in trying to meet CARB's "rogue" regulations.

        I use the term "rogue", BTW, somewhat facetiously, because, first, (despite their image) CARB is actually better to work with than a lot of people outside of the industry think. Secondly, something that is missed by just about everybody is that CARB is very much influenced by the need to meet targets set by Federal Clean Air regulations... and plays a role in certifying for Federal, as well as "California", specification vehicles.

        It might be known for studies and preliminary regulations that seem wholly unworkable but, the fact is, CARB is much more pragmatic and willing to change course to fit the realities of a situation than, for example, a lot of other bureaucrats might be. If anything, the studies & preliminary regulations are such that I would refer to it as a design process, one that a good designer might use to iterate solutions before choosing/developing the right one. Such changes as the original EV/Zero Emissions requirement of the 90s or the Cool Car exterior paint restriction, both of which were studies/preliminary regulations, show that (pun intended) "cooler heads" prevail.

        It's not really CARB or "unrealistic" targets that OEMs are resisting in unique California Fuel Economy regulations but the costs of redundant specs.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I wonder if we'll ever have CAFE standards as high as those that China has in place already?

      The Chinese standard is 42.2 mpg by 2015 fleet wide average - which includes cars, SUVs and minivans. Their average today already meets the US 2016 CAFE standard.

      And US auto makers want to sell cars in China?!? This may be why they're asking for tougher standards - they know they can't do it / won't do it alone.
      • 5 Years Ago
      We have only two choices
      - Give money to federal gvernment in gas taxes
      - Give money to Saudis etc
      • 5 Years Ago
      I'm all for it. The less SUVs the better imo.
        • 5 Years Ago
        My Mariner hybrid is averaging 39mpg. Your Taurus can't do 29mpg downhill with a tail wind. If Ford would have hybridized the Taurus, then I would have considered it.

        There's more to the issue for tall people than leg room. It's also roof-line visibility, which ties into leg room. I test-drove a Fusion hybrid, and there was more than enough room for my legs, but the seat was so far back, and my head so high because I'm tall, that the roofline blocked the view of overhead traffic lights and road signs. That might not be the case with the Taurus, but as I said, since it gets shitty mileage, I never bothered to test it.

        After driving scrunched up with poor visilibility for 24k miles with my Scion xA, which only got 36.7 mpg over that time, I had had enough of that BS. A driver needs to be comfortable to be safe and be able to see all mirrors, windows and gages without significant movement. Ducking around your own vehicle is not smart.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Being 6'4", I'm at a conundrum with the existence of SUVs. I don't like the height and boxiness - my Mariner hybrid could be closer to the ground like a Taurus and more streamlined like an Edge and still fit me comfortably. I wanted the Fusion hybrid, but by the time I put the seat back far enough for my long legs, the roof line significantly blocked the view of overhead signs and traffic lights. The 24,000 miles I drove my Scion xA were a pain - I had to duck to see traffic lights and the seat didn't really go back far enough - my knees were up around the steering wheel. Plus, SUVs and minivans are the ONLY vehicles in which I can be the driver or passenger and a normal adult can fit behind me. Few sedans can claim that, and no compacts can.

        I agree that SUVs are too high - the high bumpers and high center of gravity combined with the weight does make them dangerous and a huge pain for average and small cars to be made sufficiently strong to survive a collision with one. Some sort of law needs to be made on the height of a bumper, or center of gravity, or something.

        On the other hand, I'm not the only 6'4" person around. There are many tall people, and I really don't like the trend of itty-bitty cars because, what the hell am I going to be able to drive? What about my future children? It's reasonable to assume that one will be in the vicinity of my height.
        • 5 Years Ago
        hell yeah!
        • 5 Years Ago
        @Time to Think

        You're stuck with SUVs because you're too big for a Prius? Have you ever heard of a FULL-SIZE-SEDAN? They're smaller than a SUV and much lower to the ground but they still have tons and tons of room for someone 6'4". I'm 6'2" and have miles of room left in a Ford Taurus.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Show me a full-sized sedan that gets 39mpg for less than $30k, and I'll consider it. My $30k Mariner hybrid is averaging that much after 1500 miles. If Ford put that tech in a Taurus, I would probably own it.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Seems like it is good business for them too. Why do simultaneous costly development of tiny cars and giant behemoths simultaneously when you can just do smaller? An added advantage to tougher standards and a fuel tax is that a company that does the right thing is not undercut by a competitor who will be more than glad to sell a bigger, heavier and more profitable model. We would love to see the car companies say they are not going to produce SUVs any more because there is just not enough demand.
      • 5 Years Ago
      If more gas taxes must come (we in California already have high gasoline taxes),
      then make sure that those funds may not be raided for any other purpose than
      for that for which they were intended, for transportation infrastructure and for grants
      to those who are most able to bring us automobiles that will wean us away from
      foreign oil. All I ask is that the politicians of every political stripe keep their larcenous fingers away from the revenue. Don't forget how they have embezzled from
      Social Security and other programs intended to help us unfortunates. No
      loopholes!!
        • 5 Years Ago
        @ doubleplusgood:

        You need a history lesson. The Social Security fund was raided soon after it was
        established by none other than FDR himself.

        • 5 Years Ago
        That, and the fact that it was under the last two years of Clinton's administration that we actually paid down our debt!!!!!

        Shhhhh .. That was with a GOP congress. We dont want that to get out.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Don't worry you can trust them. They know what's best for you.
        • 5 Years Ago
        That, and the fact that it was under the last two years of Clinton's administration that we actually paid down our debt!!!!! The "fiscal conservatives" are charlatans - they only like spending if it's their party doing the spending.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Exactly who was it that looted the Social Security trust fund?
        Reagan, Bush Sr, and Bush Jr

        Clinton did nothing to outlaw the theft. He was kept too busy by the thugs who went after Clinton with everything they could, everything including the kitchen sink. He was a neutered president after they kept him on the ropes for so long. Perhaps the R's were worried about possible investigations of their theft.

        http://www.thebiglie.net/id5.html
      • 5 Years Ago
      when EVs become more prevalent, watch how fast a tax is slapped on power for battery chargers
      • 5 Years Ago
      Hell just froze over and the apocalypse is upon us.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Considering that Ford and Toyota cross-licensed each other's rather cost effective diesel and dual-mode hybrid technologies it's pretty clear which automakers would likely benefit the most from this sort of thing.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Hmmm, Pentagon issues report saying demand will surpass production capacity in 2012 and production capacity will begin dropping in 2015... and makes several references to Mad Max...

        Automakers want stricter fuel consumption guidelines...

        Automakers want higher gas tax...

        THE APOCALYPSE IS UPON US! START BUYING GUNS AND ELECTRIC CARS!
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