How will the new Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) changes play out for the consumer? Cylinder deactivation and continuously variable transmissions are an incremental first step, but the new standards may backfire, Therese Langer told the Detroit News. Langer is the transportation program director for the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy.

If automakers want to cut corners, they can make the affected light trucks and SUVs bigger so as to fit into a new class with lower mileage standards, Langer said. This isn't so uncommon — in fact, automakers currently push many cars into the truck category by adding features such as seats that can be removed to make a flat floor, moving the vehicles into a class with lower mileage requirements. The PT Cruiser, for example, is classified as a light truck.

Automakers have responded to the new CAFE rules with claims that the new standards don't take into account the sacrifices associated with higher mpg, including safety, utility and horsepower.

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