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Affordability as the watchword Tuesday as automotive engineers at the SAE World Congress discussed how to meet the new 2016 corporate average fuel economy standards. Automakers will have to get their fleets to an average of 34.1 miles per gallon (35.5 equivalent with other factors for the EPA CO2 limits). Most automakers are already well on their way to this level with their next-generation designs. However, to do it they will have to make improvements to virtually every model in the entire flee

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Now that the federal government has at last firmed up the fleet average fuel economy and CO2 standards for the next five years, you might wonder how much vehicle models will have to improve to meet those mandates. In a surprising number of cases, it might not be as much as you think.

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Ford 1.6-liter EcoBoost - Click above for high-res image gallery

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Ford 1.6-liter EcoBoost - click above for high-res image gallery

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2010 Honda Insight - Click above for high-res image gallery

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In the wake of last week's announcement by President Obama that the proposed California greenhouse gas emissions rules would be adopted on a national level, Keith Crain, the publisher of Automotive News has published an editorial calling CAFE a failure. The imposition of fuel economy rules certainly played a part in the tremendous technical innovation that has occurred over the last three decades. Cars today are significantly more fuel efficient than they were back in early 1970s while emitting

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All too often, government policies are set by politicians and bureaucrats based solely on ideology rather than facts. With this week's announcement that the Obama administration will impose the equivalent of the California greenhouse gas emissions rules on a national level, it's good to hear that officials at least consulted with some technical experts. In this case, experts from Ricardo worked with officials from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to analyze comments on last yea

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After fighting fuel economy and emissions rules at both the federal and state levels for many years, the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers is finally coming out in favor of the new regulatory framework that will be announced by President Obama tomorrow. The biggest sticking point in recent years has been the move to try and block California and other states from effectively setting their own fuel economy standards by regulating greenhouse gas emissions.

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After years of fighting fuel economy and emissions rules at both the federal and state levels, the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers is finally coming out in favor of the new regulatory framework that will be announced by President Obama tomorrow. The biggest sticking point in recent years has been the move to block California and other states from effectively setting their own fuel economy standards by regulating greenhouse gas emissions.

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I fully agree that we need more fuel efficient vehicles. But I also firmly believe that the vast majority of American drivers (and others around the world) will always buy the biggest, most powerful vehicle they think they can afford to operate. When gas was cheap in this country, they bought big SUVs and trucks because they could afford them, even though there were plenty of small, efficient vehicles offered. Sure, some people bought compacts for a variety of reasons but most people went big. W

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After the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced its proposed new Corporate Average Fuel Economy rules last spring there was a public comment period to be followed by revisions before finalizing the regulations. There were certainly some negative comments related to the footprint-based standards but the other aspect that came in for criticism was the cost benefit analysis. In a seemingly surprising move, even the Environmental Protection Agency filed a comment opposing the draf

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The energy bill that was passed by Congress last December requiring corporate average fuel economy to be raised to 35 mpg by 2020 had some interesting little known elements in it. Among other things, the bill required NHTSA to set the standards at the maximum feasible level for any given years meaning that the 35 mpg threshold could be reached well before 2020. The problem lies in that word feasible. In setting standards NHTSA was required to factor in projections for what fuel prices would be i

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The final 2007 model year tally of corporate average fuel economy for automakers selling cars in the U.S. is done, and Toyota came out on top of the heap again among the big brands. However, Toyota was not the overall winner. That honor went to none other than Lotus with 30.2 mpg! Lotus however is a very small fish in a huge if shrinking pond, having only sold six hundred 2007 model cars here. Toyota sold a couple more than that and averaged 29.69 mpg with its lineup of Priuses, Camrys, Corollas

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When the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration published an initial draft of the new fuel economy rules this spring, they gave automakers and other interested parties until July 1 to comment before finalizing the rules. That comment period is now over and GM and others have responded. Under the energy bill that was passed in December 2007, NHTSA is supposed to factor in what is technically feasible as well as what kinds of vehicles are expected to be on the market in setting the standar

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The way the draft rules have been defined for the new Corporate Average Fuel Economy standard, Porsche is at a distinct disadvantage. Because the standards for any given vehicle are based on the size of the vehicle, Porsche's relatively small cars have to meet a higher standard than other manufacturers. Apparently Porsche doesn't really care. Detlev von Platen the new CEO of Porsche Cars North America has declared that the German sports car (and SUV) builder will not downsize its vehicles or eng

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When NHTSA recently released draft regulations to implement the fuel economy requirements from December's Energy Bill a controversial element of the proposal were the footprint-based thresholds. Rather than setting a single requirement that all manufacturers fleets would have to meet, the proposal set mileage thresholds based on the vehicle's footprint (the wheelbase x track width). Each manufacturer would get a requirement based on a sales weighted average of the footprint values for the vehicl

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