What is a plug-in vehicle worth? When it comes to CAFE credits, the answer to this question is a bit complicated. As we discussed in our Greenlings look at CAFE, the system allows for credits. One effect is that automakers who build vehicles that can burn E85 – even if these cars don't actually use the biofuel – get a bit of a pass for their dirtier vehicles. When it comes to EVs, a potential "sell one, get one free" deal is in the works.

Basically, the system might allow plug-in vehicles to count as 1.2 or even 2 vehicles in the fleet calculations,and so each EV could offset something big and fuel inefficient. This might result in getting plug-in vehicles to market while also allowing bug SUVs to remain in production. Unsurprisingly, the Auto Alliance, made up of most of the big OEMs, loves the idea. Alliance spokesman Charles Territo said that, "The ability to earn, trade and bank credits" by producing electric and hybrid vehicles "is essential to meeting the goals of the national program." The next big CAFE goal is 35.5 mpg by 2016.

John DeCicco, senior lecturer at the University of Michigan's School of Natural Resources and Environment, told HybridCars that the EV credit system under discussion is potentially confusing. "Funny math can't substitute for engineering breakthroughs. EVs of any sort can only make a real difference if they succeed on their merits for both customer value and emissions reduction. Bonus credits may fool a few starry-eyed policymakers, they won't fool either the marketplace or the Earth's atmosphere."

Source: HybridCars]

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