• May 13, 2011
A CAFE standard of up to 62 miles per gallon by 2025, which we first heard about last October, will certainly increase the cost of vehicles, but by how much varies depending upon who you ask. Automotive News (via AutoWeek) has gathered a few opinions and estimations on how this will affect vehicle pricing and people's pocket books over the life of a vehicle.

Before we get into the impact of these proposed regulations, though, we wanted to clarify what these lofty CAFE mpg figures actually mean. Plain and simply, a CAFE mileage value does not equal an EPA mileage figure you would see on a window sticker. CAFE values use unadjusted measurements and are significantly higher than EPA or real-world mileage figures. While there is no easy conversion in going from one to the other, we used Hyundai's slides (seen here) and calculated a 62 mpg CAFE rating equates to 43 'window sticker' miles per gallon. Keep this in mind whenever you read about CAFE targets.

So, how much would a 62 mpg CAFE standard increase the price of vehicles? According to government agencies, about $3,500 at most. On the other end of the spectrum you have Sean McAlinden, from the Center for Automotive Research, quoting $9,970 per vehicle. Depending upon who you believe, this fuel economy target may end up saving consumers money. In a federal notice of intent to create rules, the EPA and NHTSA estimate lifetime fuel cost savings of $5,700 to $7,400. Let us know what 2025 CAFE standard you would like to see adopted in the comments.

[Source: Autoweek and The Truth About Cars | Image: choking sun – C.C. License 2.0]


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 22 Comments
      Dan Frederiksen
      • 1 Day Ago
      does aerodynamics cost money.. does the smaller motor needed to drive a less draggy car.. does thinking..
      • 1 Day Ago
      2025? 14 years from now? That's almost a who cares scenario. Who knows what kind of innovations we'll see before then. Any price increase speculation is just throwing mud at a wall and seeing what sticks.
      • 1 Day Ago
      Pff..They can even make it 1000MpG as far as I am concerned. The simple truth is that there is a great possibility that there is nothing left to put in the tanks of those 1000mpg vehicles from 2025 on. *shakes head*
      harlanx6
      • 1 Day Ago
      If the cost of fuel production and the demand for fuels continues to rise, CAFE will be irrelevant (as the natural forces of competition in the market will prevail). If the cost of fuel production and the demand for fuels doesn't rise (a very unlikely scenario) CAFE will be another governmental intrusion with huge unintended consequences, again demonstrating they don't know WTF they are doing. I suspect in the end they will do whatever the lobbyists tell them (as opposed to the will of the people). My best guess is that CAFE in the future will be as it has been in the past, irrelevant. The general rule of thumb is anything the government does makes things worse, as they do what isn't needed and fail to do what is. In a nutshell, the power of the campaign contribution overrules the power of the vote.
      SpeedyRacer
      • 1 Day Ago
      To achieve a 43 mpg combined window sticker would require some expensive changes. especially in light of the fact that Americans are unwilling to drive smaller cars. The most likely technology currently available is hybrid electric. Making an ICE car into a HEV typically adds on the order of $8,000. This is slightly above what our government believes we could save over the vehicle's lifetime in fuel costs. OK, fine... except it does not include the fact that this will kill auto sales. Every time a vehicle price goes up some percent of the market is priced out of it. Way to create jobs! A slower approach to increasing CAFE could give the industry enough time to develop cost effective technology to keep pace.
      • 1 Day Ago
      Are the $4k to $10k cost increases - mentioned in this article - in terms of year 2025 dollars or year 2011 dollars?
        letstakeawalk
        • 1 Day Ago
        If anyone says they know what the value of a 2025 dollar will be, they're lying.
          • 1 Day Ago
          @letstakeawalk
          I can say with 100% certainty that it will be very significantly less than what it's worth today.
        • 1 Day Ago
        Yeah, considering the inflation we're in for, I think it would still be profitable to fork over and buy today a 2000 Watt solar panel installation + EV to charge your car totally off grid. A dollar today is going to be worth about $10,000 in 5 years.
      Neil Blanchard
      • 1 Day Ago
      Many things can be done to improve FE, virtually for free! And, don't forget that the Leaf and the Volt *already* get 93-99MPGe, while the Illuminati Motors 'Seven' gets 207MPGe! Electric drivetrains are already way more efficient than this! http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/2010/09/more-ways-for-auto-makers-to-build-more.html The most obvious improvement to cars, would be to mold the plastic on the front of the vehicle to be smooth and round, with grill openings that are sized (and placed) only as required to cool the engine. Some new plastic bumper covers and grill pieces could be snapped onto cars. Flush covers should be used on all lights. Fairing pieces could be added to side mirrors. Hood gap gaskets, and streamlined wheel covers are easy, too. Here are a bunch more that are not expensive: Sealing all the seams and joints (with gaskets or backing flanges) in the high pressure areas of the vehicle. Smooth floor pans with no sharp protrusions -- this is part of the drag just as much as the parts of the car that can be easily seen. Smoothing the underside with covers (like the EV-1). Transmission ratios should be optimized for efficiency at normal driving speeds. Higher gearing with 6-7 speeds would be optimal (smaller engines need more gears to work efficiently); or CVT transmissions. Narrower and lighter, LRR (low rolling resistance) tires should be used. Average & "instant" MPG displays, that are on all the time. The new Honda Insight, the 3rd gen Prius, and some Ford models, have excellent displays that help the driver be more efficient. Throttle control (rather than cruise/speed control!) that maintains even throttle in a user-set speed range, with minimal throttle increases to maintain the speed in that range. Use GPS and elevation data to "learn" more efficient throttle control, that could be used on the highway (for cruise control) and/or it could be integrated into a "throttle-by-wire" control. Tire pressure monitor, that warns the driver when the tires get below the recommended pressure (which could be adjusted upwards if the driver wants to run a pressure up to the tire sidewall maximum). Or better yet: fill tires with foam, so they would never deflate, and minimize rolling resistance. Efficient and effective fresh air flow through the vehicle, with intakes on a high pressure area, and exhaust vent(s) out the back of the vehicle into the low pressure wake zone, to reduce drag as much as possible. Coat all the window glass to exclude as much heat as possible; which reduces the need for A/C. On defrost mode, the A/C should only come on automatically at maximum defrost(if at all), and it should always be toggled on/off by the driver. I would prefer to make A/C on the defrost setting optional. Efficient lights such as LED's and HID, that use a little power as possible while functioning as well (or better) than incandescent lights.
        • 1 Day Ago
        @Neil Blanchard
        Good ideas. Another one for EV's and hybrids would be solar panels on the roof which help power the accessories and AC when it's hot, therefore reducing the burden on the main batteries.
        Neil Blanchard
        • 1 Day Ago
        @Neil Blanchard
        (con't): Lower consumption electronics, such as A/C, fans and audio systems. Active grill, that opens when more cooling air is needed, but remains closed – and is more aerodynamic most of the time. Or, a passive design that allows air through at low(er) speeds and then forces air to flow over the top at high(er) speeds. Use very low friction wheel bearings, such as ceramic bearings; along with low viscosity lubrication, to reduce rolling resistance. The VW 1L car uses these. Fully ducted engine cooling system, with the intake down low on the front, and the exhaust flows into a low pressure zone; minimizing the size of the radiator and the reducing the "internal" drag as much as possible. Video cameras and screens in place of side mirrors. This would help a lot with aerodynamics. An example of this starts with Post #167: http://ecomodder.com/forum/showthread.php/scion-xa-aero-mods-2969-17.html I also have another entry in this blog on this: http://neilblanchard.vox.com/library/post/eyes-forward-video-mirrors-on-my-xa.html Automatic engine shut off and start up; at least with CVT (or automatic) transmissions -- and possibly with standard shifts, based on having both the clutch and the brake applied? Lean burn in low vacuum conditions. Use variable valve timing to gain efficiencies. Store hot coolant in a vacuum insulated tank, to speed up warm-up time; a-la what the 2nd generation Prius does. Or, do what the 3rd generation Prius does: heat the coolant quickly using the exhaust heat. Preheating intake air would also help fully vaporize the fuel; making it higher efficiency. Tighten up wheel openings, and always use aerodynamically designed wheels/covers, with rear wheel skirts (at least optional). Make roof racks removable. Years ago, I saw a "papoose" add-on storage system that locked onto the back of the car, with a single caster wheel to support the weight -- it tucked completely into the air flow behind the car; and it would be a great way to add storage space when needed; that did not affect how you drove very much. It could actually greatly improve the overall aerodynamic drag of the vehicle. An item that has indirect benefits: instead of thick foam and spring seats, they should be mesh or fabric stretched onto frames that provide the right ergonomic shape and provide good support without weighing so much, and taking up a lot of space. This allows a smaller and lighter vehicle because the size of car can be smaller and/or just have more room. Mesh seats would be much cooler in hot weather, and reduce/eliminate the need for A/C. Sincerely, Neil
      Neil Blanchard
      • 1 Day Ago
      Another idea is regenerative braking using the alternator; and not run the alternator when it isn't needed. Neil
      • 1 Day Ago
      Agree, this is just stupid. By then oil will be so scarce and expensive that the market will have moved well beyond this on its own accord, despite resistance and subsidies to maintain the status quo. If the oil isn't there, you can't manipulate it into existence. This is also why I think people griping over the slightly higher cost of EV's today really don't have anything to gripe about. Say they have their car for 10 years, well by then gasoline is going to be so expensive that their EV is going to hold its value, and considering how hard it's going to be to crank out 100's of millions of EV's before oil runs out, it's quite possible that their EV could go UP in value.
        • 1 Day Ago
        The whole point of CAFE and the long time horizons for implementing the standards is to give car companies enough time to design and produce more fuel efficient cars. The lead time for improvements in fuel economy is measured in years, while the price of oil and gasoline can move a great deal on the order of weeks. Starting the long lead times now is a good idea so that the American motorist doesn't get screwed by oil supply issues and is better prepared for the instability in the oil market that is in store
        • 1 Day Ago
        Due to low maintenance and increasing oil prices I have thought for sometime that the real advantage of electric cars will be in low depreciation once folks get used to them. After 8 years and perhaps 100,000 miles then the purchase of a new battery pack, maybe for around $7,200, will keep you on the road for another 8 years and 100,000 miles
          Ben Crockett
          • 1 Day Ago
          David, I have thought the same. Also in 8 years the pack should be cheaper too due to cost reductions in cell prices. Time will tell, but it will be interesting to see if automakers will continue to sell battery packs for older used vehicles - and will they perform/offer upgrades of the older battery pack with higher density packs as the tech improves. My guess is they will hold battery packs in their inventory parts bins but the majors will not offer new tech in the older battery packs unless the old battery tech becomes obsolete. I think companies like Tesla though will offer the lastest pack technologies in its upcoming models such as the Model S, when it becomes battery replacement time. This will be true recycling and I expect the lifecycle of a vehicle to therefore become much longer.
      BipDBo
      • 1 Day Ago
      I'm a republican. I'm all for the free market and personal choice, but here's the question: Is it better to spend $3500 or even $9970 toward automotive engineering or to spend $5,700 to $7,400 toward oil production? As an American, an Republican environmentalist, and an engineer, I prefer the former. If I'm reaing the tea leaves correctly, though, I predict that the market forces will drive us to this standard before a CAFE requirement 14 years from now. I don't see any potential harm to the auto industry, therefore, in the feds implementing this timetime. If anything, it may keep cheap Chinese cars out of the US for a little while longer.
      Ryan
      • 1 Day Ago
      We should have 62mpg cars by 2015... Or at least give green consumers that we can spend $3k to get new high-tech improvements to get more mpg.
      Ernie Dunbar
      • 1 Day Ago
      From the article: "the EPA and NHTSA estimate lifetime fuel cost savings of $5,700 to $7,400." Considering that getting to an average of 62 MPG will require a significant percentage of no-gasoline vehicles, depending on the car you buy in 2025, those lifetime fuel savings can be a *lot* higher. I calculated the difference between an electric and a car getting 30MPG over 8 years (not quite lifetime, either), and it's about $11,000 to $14,000 if gas costs between $4.50 and $5.15 a gallon (like it already does where I live). Of course, should the Mad-Max-peak-oil-apocalypse *not* happen before then, your savings could also be a lot lower, if any at all. Just because some people will give up their 6L V8s when polar bears are cozy in Texas.
        • 1 Day Ago
        @Ernie Dunbar
        Hi Ernie. You don't say over what mileage pa you work out your figures. I reckon you break even with a 30mpg car, bearing in mind that that is very good mileage indeed for the urban commuting that electric cars are designed to compete in, if you do 10,000 miles pa with petrol at $4.60: 10,000/30 = 333 gallons (US) at $4.60/gal = $1530 pa Battery depreciated at $100/mo ( What Renault are leasing them for) = $1200 10,000 miles at 3miles kwh to allow for heating etc =3, 333kwh At 10cents/kwh = $333 Total $1530 pa The low maintenance is thrown in for free, so true breakeven is lower. Electric cars have got to do some heavy cost cutting though to make up for when the $7,500 subsidy ceases.
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