Johnson Controls executive Brian Kesseler isn't likely to get any holiday presents this year from Nissan chief Carlos Ghosn or Tesla Motors head Elon Musk, but lots of other folks might be happy with what he has to say about automakers' efforts to reach stricter fleetwide fuel-economy standards.

Speaking at the Automotive News World Congress, Kesseler said automakers wouldn't need to sell an extensive number of plug-in vehicles in order to meet the 54.5 mile per gallon Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standard the US government set in 2012 for 2025 model-year vehicles. In fact, he said, components such as stop-start engine technology, turbochargers and direct injection may actually do the trick. Already, things like smaller engine sizes and lighter cars are already playing major roles in spurring fuel-efficiency gains. Of course, Johnson Controls sells batteries specially built for stop-start systems, so Kesseler does have a bit of skin in this game.

The 54.5-mpg CAFE standard equates to about a 40-mpg "real world" fuel-efficiency level. To put that into perspective, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said in a report late last year that model-year 2013 average fuel economy was an even 24 mpg. That was up from 23.6 mpg for the 2012 model year and 22.4 mpg for 2011.

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