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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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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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When Nissan introduced the Titan pickup truck earlier this decade, they became the first Japanese Automaker to directly challenge the U.S. manufacturers in the full-size truck segment. Unfortunately for Nissan, the gamble didn't pay off, but the company knows when to stop throwing good money after bad. With sales of only 65,000 a year and no sales outside of North America, it didn't make sense for Nissan to spend money developing a new generation vehicle. The capper on the deal were new fuel eco

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The theme of this year's Society of Automotive Engineers World Congress is "A Climate for Change" and the host company is Chrysler. Chrysler's VP of Regulatory Affairs, Deb Morrissett, spoke today at an SAE luncheon in Detroit in advance of the Congress next month. Morrissett spoke about the new fuel economy regulations and what it would take for Chrysler and other companies to meet the standards. She talked about how efficiency has actually been improving at the rate of 1-1.5 percent annually f

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When people like GM Vice Chairman Bob Lutz talk about how new fuel economy regulations are going to add $5-6,000 to the price of new cars and trucks, it's worth examining how they come to those numbers. Obviously there are some cars today that can achieve the 35mpg level without being insanely expensive. Unfortunately those tend to be smaller cars that the vast majority of American new car buyers seem to be unwilling to buy at current fuel prices. For any number of reasons, Americans still prefe

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Last month Chevrolet officially revealed the fastest, most powerful Corvette of all time, the 2009 ZR1. At a minimum of 620hp, the ZR1 will very likely be the most powerful Corvette that ever gets built, at least with an internal combustion engine. Fuel economy rules and rising prices will mean that future generations of the Corvette, starting with the C7 that is expected to debut in about 2012, will follow the same path as most other vehicles. It will get smaller, lighter and more efficient.

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In a stunning statement of the obvious, Chrysler Co-president Jim Press told Automotive News (subs req'd) that "The Hemi is not the power-train of the future." Given rising fuel prices and new fuel economy requirements, the days of the legendary HEMI are surely numbered, at least in cars and lighter trucks. Over the past decade Chrysler has resurrected the HEMI in many trucks, SUVs and rear wheel drive trucks. But going forward it will undoubtedly be supplanted by smaller, more efficient and mo

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A year ago the Zeta rear-wheel-drive architecture developed at General Motors Holden division in Australia looked set to spawn a host of new North American models. The platform that under-pins the new Pontiac G8 and the upcoming Chevrolet Camaro now looks like it will have much more limited application. The next generation of the Chevy Impala was due to be built on this platform alongside the Camaro but now will likely stay on an updated version of the current front-wheel-drive chassis.

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A new dual overhead cam V-8 engine for General Motors luxury car applications that was scheduled for production in 2009 has been canceled. This is the first known change in future product plans to follow the recent passage of new fuel economy rules. GM had announced plans a year ago to invest $300 million in their Tonawanda, New York engine plant to build the new V-8 to replace the current NorthStar V-8 used in various Cadillac models. Production of the NorthStar is scheduled to end in 2010.

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While the corporate average fuel economy requirements in the energy bill that was passed last week mean a lot of extra work for automakers, some see it as an opportunity. One of those is Ricardo. The engineering consultancy that specializes in power-train work has set up a new unit called Total Vehicle Fuel Economy (TFVE). The TFVE group will be working with client companies to optimize all the vehicle systems with the goal of improving efficiency. They are looking beyond just the engines and tr

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With a new energy bill on the verge of becoming law, our friends over at Winding Road got to thinking. With the law soon to require an average of 35 mpg from the new vehicle fleet, what vehicles can we buy today that actually meet that requirement? As it turns out, when checking the combined mileage figure that's posted on new car window stickers, the list comes up perilously short. So short in fact that it currently includes two cars that are available on the US market. A few other vehicles com

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A second vote today in the US Senate on the new energy bill came up one vote shy of the sixty needed to end debate. Republicans opposed to $21.8 billion in tax increases have filibustered the legislation since it was first passed by the House of Representatives last week. Yesterday Senate negotiators removed a provision that would have required electric utilities to get fifteen percent of their power from renewable sources by the middle of the next decade. After the 59-40 vote this morning Major

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With the energy bill that was passed by the House of Representatives last week currently stalled in the US Senate, Democratic leaders are working feverishly to modify the legislation. Last Friday, a procedural vote to end debate and get a vote on the bill fell short of the necessary sixty votes to get to the Senate floor. Republicans were opposed to renewable energy requirements on electric utilities and tax changes that would have eliminated almost $13 billion of tax breaks for oil companies am

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If the energy bill that's currently stalled in the US Senate does ultimately get passed, every car-maker in the US market will have to thoroughly revamp their product lines. This is particularly true for trucks where most companies struggle to achieve mileage even in the low twenties. At a Saturn event in San Diego CA, GM Vice Chairman Bob Lutz again said the 35 mpg would cause a $6,000-7,000 increase in vehicle prices in order to add the required technology that would meet the standard by 2020.

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After a delay in the vote the House of Representatives passed the new energy on Thursday by a 235-181 margin. The bill passed largely on party lines with fourteen Republicans voting for the bill and seven Democrats against it. The reasons behind the delay will likely doom the bill in the Senate and almost certainly at the White House if it gets that far unchanged. While most representatives supported the fuel economy requirements, some of the ancillary elements are a deal breaker for Republicans

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Readers of this site will be shocked to learn that there is a loophole in the new fuel economy standards that the House of Representatives is due to vote on soon. One of the changes to the original Senate bill was the restoration of the separate fleet average calculations for domestic- and foreign-built vehicles. Nissan had actually opposed this, preferring to have all their vehicles lumped together. Under the North American Free Trade Agreement all vehicles built in North America (US, Canada an

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The new compromise energy bill that was announced over the weekend will almost certainly get passed by the Democrat-controlled Congress starting with the House of Representatives this week. Unfortunately there is still that pesky issue of a possible presidential veto. An anonymous Washington lobbyist told BloggingStocks that the bill currently has about a 70/30 chance of becoming law. The main issues are some of the renewable energy requirements for utilities and potential tax increases that may

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Some further details have emerged about the compromise fuel economy bill that hammered out late Friday night. As we know they will continue to calculate averages for cars and trucks separately as well as calculating the separate averages for import and domestic fleets. The averages are sales weighted so selling more low mileage vehicles pulls down the average. What wasn't apparent before is that while the credits for flex-fuel vehicles (1.2 mpg per vehicle) are retained through 2014, they are du

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var digg_url = 'http://digg.com/politics/House_leaders_reach_deal_on_35_mpg_fuel_economy_standard_by_2020/blog'; Rep. John Dingell (D-MI) reached a deal late Friday night with Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA MI) on a compromise bill to raise fuel economy standards for new cars and trucks to 25 35 mpg 2020. As reported earlier this week, the same threshold would be maintained that was in the Senate bill passed last June. The biggest differences from the earlier Senate bill are the retention of sepa

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US Rep. John Dingell (D-MI) is saying that a deal is very close on a compromise fuel economy bill in the US Congress. As we reported the other day, the 35 mpg by 2020 standard from the previous Senate bill will be retained with separate averages being calculated for cars and trucks. The primary remaining stumbling block appears to be over clarifying which agencies have responsibility for what.

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