• Mar 17, 2011
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, it will cost automakers an average of $948 to meet the 34.1 mile per gallon Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards that will be adopted in the United States in 2016. The current standard sits at 27.5 mpg. The EPA estimates that the average owner will save some $4,000 in fuel costs over the life of the vehicle, resulting in a net savings of over $3,000 per owner.

Sounds like a fair deal, right? Well... let's delve deeper into the numbers. The New York Times reports that some automakers will be paying much more money to reach the 2016 CAFE requirements than others. With its penchant for hybrid cars, it's no surprise that it will cost Toyota the least amount to comply at just $455 per vehicle. Kia ($501 per vehicle), Honda ($574) and Hyundai ($745) all have it relatively easy as well.

Now things get a little murkier. General Motors will reportedly have to shell out $1,219 per vehicle to comply with the 2016 CAFE regulations; Ford will spend $1,228 per vehicle. Chrysler has it even worse, with an estimated $1,328 per vehicle. Still, that pales in comparison to Volkswagen, which is expected to spend a whipping $1,693 for each vehicle it sells here in the States to hit the 34.1 mpg requirement. Yowza.

As pointed out by NYT, though, we shouldn't necessarily feel bad for those automakers paying more per vehicle. After all, companies like Toyota and Honda have already paid huge sums of money in research and development costs to get their fleet mileage figures where they are – in a way, you could say that the EPA is forcing thirstier brands just to follow suit. For more analysis of the numbers and how they will affect automakers and consumers, click here.

[Source: The New York Times | Image: Rich Pedroncelli/AP]


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  • 44 Comments
      • 3 Years Ago
      Jeremy Korzeniewski writes this column in a typical fan boy manner, very sympatetic to the automakers and presents the evil government that makes cars more expensive for the hard working people. I think the best way to read his column is to the tune of that music from The Shindler’s List by Itzhak Pearlman (I believe that is his name)

      Fresh air dude, clean fresh air and no more money for saudies, libians, canadians and mexicans.
        • 3 Years Ago
        @ ojfl

        The reason government HAS to make the decision for the people to drive a car that consumes less gas is because government has to send the military to protect certain areas around the world to protect our sources of oil. If we used less gas we would have no reason to have any military in the Middle East. By the way did you know that in 1953 when Shah of Iran was exiled (for a very short time) US was prepared to annex the province of Khuzestan from Iran. It has huge oil fields. We have no reason to be in Bahrain or Saudi Arabia, but we are there to protect the flow of oil.

        Also, as you know USA is running huge trade deficits, guess what is the biggest component? Oil. We are sending all this money that will not circulate in US economy to Canada, Saudi Arabia, Mexico and many other countries.
        • 3 Years Ago
        I don't want to upset the fantasy world you live in the US dependence on foreign oil has increased since the US implemented CAFE standards, not decreased. Now, I'm not saying that CAFE standards have increased our dependence on foreign oil, but they certainly have been an utter and total failure at bringing about their stated goal of reducing our dependence on foreign oil.

        But, like all things gov't the solution to gov't failure is more gov't.
        • 3 Years Ago
        Sea Urchin,

        why is this not a valid position to take? The government does not need to make all decisions for the people. History shows they make those determinations themselves. After the oil crisis of the 70s cars in the US went much smaller, with smaller engines. Recall the muscle car almost died. The a few years back when oil shot up people again used their purchasing power and moved to smaller cars. Also recently the body-on-frame SUV has been dwindling because people are now buying crossovers with more efficient engines and better handling dynamics. Did the government had to mandate any of these reactions? So it is OK to be skeptical of government attitudes, particularly mandates with no clear or dubious benefit. There was an article recently here in the blog that showed more fuel efficient cars mean more miles driven and hence potentially no savings in consumption or emissions:

        http://green.autoblog.com/2011/03/09/do-drivers-with-green-cars-put-on-more-miles/
      • 3 Years Ago
      And people should believe what the government says it will cost why????? I honestly dont know if they have ever EVER done anything large scale that was AT or under budget, its alway in multiples of 10 over budget,

      LET THE FREE MARKET WORK!


      or that thing that the US has that we call a free market
      • 3 Years Ago
      Reading this article, 2016 CAFE sounds like a roundabout way to increases fuel efficiency while continuing the subsidies that give us our sweet, cheap US gasoline.
      • 3 Years Ago
      @coupefan Here in IL, we transfer plates. No cars go on the lot with plates on them. And all those cars in the front row have plates, along with pricing stickers in their windows, which I find quite odd. I was just asking if CA did things differently, thats all. I didnt need a smart arsed, nonsensical answer. k thx bye
      • 3 Years Ago
      This is real simple... those automakers who have done more work in the past to be efficient are going to have an easier time making the new standards. American companies have historically been the least conscientious automakers when it comes to efficiency, so they'll likely have to do more work to make it happen. It should be a wake-up call to American car makers to get with the times, plain and simple.

      Volkswagen... well, they're German and everything they do costs more (I am currently and have in the past worked for a Germany company, and I can assure you, everything THEY do cost more than when we do).

      In the end, we should actually all be blaming the bad drivers on the road and the overly-protective lawmakers that have decided to add thousands of pounds to our vehicles.

      Fun fact: the 2000 Honda Insight (hybrid) was rated at 70mpg on the highway, and the 1984 Honda Civic (HX, I believe) (full gasoline) was rated at 67mpg highway. Impressive what 16 years of technology does, isn't it?
        • 3 Years Ago
        I agree with everything you say, but will point out that you can not directly compare the mileage numbers of those older cars with ones today. Those older numbers were calculated using the much more (overly) optimistic testing procedures than the current tests. I am not saying that those cars weren't efficient, but chances are you are much more likely to match the EPA numbers of a modern car than you would of those older ones.

        Think of it kind of like how you can't directly compare HP numbers from old muscle cars from the 60s to cars of today because one was net and the other gross.
      • 3 Years Ago
      GM better sell a lot of Volts and Cruzes to counter the sales of the Corvette,Camaro,Tahoe etc.
      • 3 Years Ago
      Those are all loaded numbers that should be taken with a grain of salt.

      For instance, how much did adding in the first power windows and mirrors add to the cost of cars way back when? I am sure it was many, many times what it costs today due to the reduction in the price of those components.

      Similar deal with anything that carmakers have to add to meet tougher fuel regs - it might add $XXX to cars now, but over the course of a few years, those costs will drop to almost nothing... and like was pointed out, some car makers have been doing that already, and have been met with great success in the marketplace.

      And one of the biggest things is that is might add $1k to the price of a car (for now), but it will save many times that amount in reduced fuel costs for the consumer over the life of the car. As well as help reduce our dependence on oil.

      • 3 Years Ago
      I don't think Toyota's "penchant for hybrids" has anything to do with this. If you look at the list, the import brands that sell predominately compact and midsize cars don't have far to go, while the domestic brands that sell more large cars, trucks, and SUVs have further to catch up. It's harder to improve efficiency on a 5000 pound object, even if it's rated on a more lenient scale.

      Also, note that VW sells mostly cars here, but historically they have been heavier (VW enthusiasts say things like "it feels more solid" but what they really mean is that it's heavier). They placed a premium on NVH, ride comfort, and materials quality, while historically Honda has sold cars with minimal levels of sound deadening and other non-essential items that add weight.
      • 3 Years Ago
      I'm baffled at how they got that estimate for VW. Given the existing range of diesels that VW has elsewhere, the sizes of the cars that they sell here, and the fuel efficient stuff like the Polo that they sell elsewhere, I can't imagine that it would really cost them that much. It's not like they have a range of 3/4 ton pickups to counter-balance. Where did they get these numbers from?
        • 3 Years Ago
        Keep in mind that the smallest vehicle that they sell here in the US is the Golf with the 2.5l 5cyl, which gets a 23/33mpg. That's it. The closest thing they have to a high mpg vehicle are their diesels, which start at $23k+. All of the other manufacturers have smaller cars (or at least similar sized cars) that get better mileage.

        Also remember that it's VAG (Volkswagen Auto Group) so it also has to deal with Audi, Lambo, etc...
      • 3 Years Ago
      I feel like it's also important to point out that the imports don't make many trucks (and I mean usable pickups) like the domestics. Toyota has 2 trucks (but mostly sells Camrys), whereas the F150 is one of Ford's most popular models. When so many people are buying your thirstier wares because they need them for work, it's hard to counter that even with a fleet of subcompact hybrid diesels. On the other hand, the domestics do also make and sell a lot of needlessly thirsty SUVs that serve no purpose at all which could be shrunken or removed from the lineup entirely.
        • 3 Years Ago
        Trucks and cars are measured on different averages, so no, having more trucks does not factor into the fleet average for your cars.
        • 3 Years Ago
        Of the imports, Toyota is the only full line mfg. They sell a fraction of the light duty trucks that Ford or GM sell and it will still cost them over $500 to comply. It's says a lot that with all the small cars the imports sell, it's still going to cost them to meet the standard.

        Consider this, Ford F-series trucks are the #1 volume vehicle sold in the US. The fact that it will cost them only double (approx) the amount it will cost either Honda/Toyota/Hyundai says a lot about their recent push for fuel efficiency.

        Maybe they're late to game but up until the gas spike of '08 the US consumer could care less about mpg's. And to a certain extent, they still don't care that much.
        • 3 Years Ago
        Did not know that.
        • 3 Years Ago
        I think the new rule has a combined number that includes the cars and light trucks segment - and that's the 34.1 number for 2016. But that's an estimate, because the truck part of the equation has some complicated thing about the MPG target being based on the size of the truck. (Which is also being blamed for why small pickups like the old S-10 don't exist anymore). But, I learned all this from wikipedia, so it could be made up.
      • 3 Years Ago
      Yes, there are separate fuel economy standards that cars and light trucks to meet for the 2016 CAFE regulations. Cars will have to get 39mpg while light trucks will have to hit 30mpg, giving you the CAFE average of 34.1mpg. If your fleet is composed of a significant number of light trucks that have a hard time breaking 20mpg today, meeting the 30mpg truck target is going to cost domestic automakers more - a lot more and that fact should have been made clear in the article.

      We also need a domestic energy policy that encourages domestic energy production. Instead we have limited off-shore exploration and failed to utilized our most abundant energy source - natural gas. Natural gas is also the cleanest energy source we have, yet outside of California I don't know of any manufacturers offering natural gas vehicles to the public.

      It is time to stop sending our dollars abroad. We have the means to do it, but apparently not the will.
      • 3 Years Ago
      Don't feel to bad for the automakers... they'll be sure to pass these costs directly on to you, the buyer.
        • 3 Years Ago
        It's just another gov't sanctioned indirect regressive tax on the poor. Like the lottery. ;)
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