Best of Deals Car Reviews Repair Shops Cars A-Z Radio Show

Proposed 56.2 MPG Fleet Average Required by 2025 Model-Year . . . Good Idea?

Link to today’s Detroit News article:


I think it’s a good idea. We aren’t going to wean ourselves off foreign sources of energy until we make some sacrifices.

Although it happened before I was born, I can remember when it was cool to conserve and sacrifice during WWII. We don’t call them the “greatest generation” for nothing. It’s time we emulate them.

Not in my opinion. I don’t like fleet average requirements. Its an inefficient way of doing things, IMO.

What I would prefer is a big fat hike in the gas tax with the money used to:

  1. fully fund road maintenance
  2. fund a permanent “making work pay” type of tax credit
  3. fund an increased personal deduction for adults.

In other words, have the vast majority of the money come back to people but truly make it financially worthwhile for people to choose efficient vehicles on their own. I believe you would find the effect on our dependence on imported energy to be greater than a boost in mpg requirements… Because without an increase in the price of gas, a boost in mpg simply results in lower driving costs per mile, and historically, an increased driving that offsets most of the savings.

Higher fleet averages are a good idea, but I think that this one is too high. It will require large numbers of electric cars and gas/electric hybrids. There was a discussion on this proposal this morning on a drive-time news show I listen to. One of the the invited experts figured that given the current state of the art for batteries would mean the average cost of a new car would be about $51,000 by 2025 to make this a reality. The average 2010 car cost $28,000 (NADA). That’s doubling the cost of a new car! Rather than increase the fleet average, it will more likely put auto manufacturers out of business. Are you going to pay over $50,000 (today’s dollars) for a Camry? Sure, you’ll save on fuel, but gas would have to be more expenisve than fine champagne to make this even remotely attractive from a cost standpoint. It seems to me this is a much better way to but GM, Ford, and Chrysler out of business than destroying the credit market. It’s a good thing there is time to consider this before the axe falls.

I don’t like the idea of CAFE standards full stop. It seems to be a round about way of legislating what people can drive. Same thing applies to fuel taxes where the tax is more than the cost of the fuel that’s being taxed.

It’s a great idea. There is still the frontier of valve control that has not been exploited and this will force manufacturers into research and development in this area. Look at the gains in power, emissions, reliability and fuel economy that came from switching ignition timing and fuel delivery over from mechanical control to electronic control.

The next logical step is to control the timing and lift of the valves electronically. If we only got a 50% increase in efficiency, it would put the automotive industry into the target zone without adding batteries,etc. I believe the potential for improvement is far greater.

With electronic valve control, the mechanical compression ratio can be raised up to the 20:1 or higher area and then controlled by valve timing. Then by shorting the intake valve timing, the actual compression can be lowered. This can provide a shorter intake stroke (effective) combined with a longer power stroke to increase efficiency as in the Miller cycle engine. When more power is needed, the intake timing can be adjusted.

It could even go into a gas diesel mode for super cruising economy, or change over to 6 cycle operation, and even go into a 2 cycle mode when maximum power is needed. Combined with turbocharging, direct injection and new transmission technologies, a very small engine could easily power the large vehicles we desire and still achieve the CAFE goals now suggested.

Increasing the gas tax is also a good idea. Traditionally, gas tax has been about a third of the cost of a gallon of gas. Today it is only a tenth. Increasing the tax to its traditional levels will provide the funding for road and bridge construction and maintenance, provide jobs and start to improve our economy. At least with the gas tax used with its lawfully intended purpose, you get to see and use what you are paying for.

The high CAFE standards have to be combined with a stiff purchase tax on large engines and heavy cars. In addition, as suggested, a gas tax across the board is needed as well.

The owner of a light car (preferably hybrid) with a 1.5 liter engine should be taxed least; those with heavy vehicles with large engines should be taxed most.

Nearly all developed and many developing countries use this method, even Norway, a rich oil exporting country.

I’m all for the higher Cafe’ numbers…I don’t like the increase purchase tax. Some of us need a bigger vehicle.

If you look at the history of MPG…automakers only seem to make advances when they are FORCED to. If we don’t force them to…then it’s quite obvious they won’t do it on their own…Not just the Big-3…but all the Asian and European manufacturers as well.

The 5% increase per year is a pretty steep increase. Not sure if it’s doable.

@ Docnick

I disagree. People who drive relatively inefficient vehicles are already taxed more in the form of paying more fuel taxes. Their vehicles use more fuel, so they have to buy more fuel, and when they buy the fuel they are effectively taxed more since the fuel tax is already built into the price at the pump.

Do you think it’s fair that only the well off or wealthy should be able to afford to drive sports cars or large trucks? If European countries didn’t have such high fuel taxation, the majority of the people there wouldn’t be driving 1.4L diesel hatchbacks. Their governments have effectively taxed the 4+ liter sports car out of the reach of the average person. I don’t want to see that happen in the U.S.

I’m happy with that idea. People SHOULD be regulated in what they can drive – my right to breathe is more important than being allowed to drive whatever. Good idea starting at the corporate level.

It’s just like safety regulations, imo. That kid on the highway yesterday with his foot out the driver’s side of his doorless Jeep, talking on his handheld cell phone (and hopefully, hopefully wearing his seatbelt – but what are the chances?) might feel he has the right to drive his car like that, but I claim the right not to kill him on impact.

But perhaps I’m biased. Personally I’d LOVE to be driving a 1.4L diesel hatchback right now! ; )

“my right to breathe is more important than being allowed to drive whatever”

Today’s cars are pretty clean burning, even the large V8s of today produces less emissions than the average four cylinder of 15 years ago.

“Personally I’d LOVE to be driving a 1.4L diesel hatchback right now”

Sure about that? Up until a couple years ago, diesels were allowed to emit substancially more emissions that gasoline engines. It’s no conicidence that many diesels sold today need to have urea injection and particulate traps.

Urea injection? Does that explain why truck stops smell like pee?

I don’t think that’s the reason. I haven’t heard about medium/heavy duty trucks being subject to the new diesel standards, but yeah the stuff they inject in the exhuast of modern diesels like the new Ford powerstrokes and the MB BlueTec diesels is quite similar to pee.

It’s that silly CAFE requirement that’s ruined the way we do business.
Because of that, Ford will NOT send us only the vehicles we want to order for our lot.
– this is pickup country –
They now have dealer allocations of vehicles. We have to take some of those and some of these just to be able to have all of the ones we want.
Which isn’t enough pickups and is too many cars.

So we end “dealer trading” trucks for cars albeit doable, but ultimately costs the customer more time and money for the same vehicle.

Spoke directly with a potential truck buyer just yesterday about tow/haul capacity of an F250.
He says "I can’t believe you guys don’t have any trucks."
I’m in parts and this is news to me too.
“this is pickup country and I guess they all sell out like a snap leaving us with a lot full of unsellable cars.”

“The high CAFE standards have to be combined with a stiff purchase tax on large engines and heavy cars.”

We’re already there in the USA. The gas guzzler tax is still in effect, although it hasn’t changed since 1991. Any new car (not truck) that gets less than 22.5 average MPG is assessed a tax between $1000 to $7700, depending on average mileage. Of course, minivans and personal SUVs are exempt. I think that minivan and personal SUV drivers should pay the tax, too. Ohhh, but then Al Gore would have to pay the tax on his big SUVs - we can’t have that!

The problem with raising tax on fuel is who will REALLY be taxed to death. Someone owns an SUV getting 12mpg drives 5k miles a year or less(416 gallons) or a Prius owner who drives 30k miles or more per year with 50mpg(600 gallons).

I see no problem what so ever given the direction models are taking now. A few hybrids, an EV or two and the fleet average needs just a few truck/suv conversions to 6 and 4 cylinder turbos, and we are there. We won’t even feel a difference in cost except for those who go all EV with puddle jumpers and gas prices will still rise, oil companies will make their profit quotas on fewer gallons sold and every one is happy.

Don’t like it. Upping the average is fine but those who set the guidelines (imoo) set the bar to high instead of something resonable. Also, those who set the guidelines (imoo) are more interested in saying “look what I did, aren’t I wonderful?”

@bscar - but why should taxes be level? The SUV driver in your example is simply driving far less than the Prius owner, and therefore is actually making the country less dependent on imported energy than the Prius owner. Why should he have to pay more in taxes than the Prius owner?

You’ve pretty much nailed one of the bigger problems with CAFE, but you didn’t even realize it. Say you have a driver who is going to drive 30,000 miles per year and gas is $3 per gallon and they currently have a choice between a 20 mpg or a 30 mpg vehicle. That means $4,500 or $3,000 in gas costs, respectively. Now, say you have CAFE require a 50% increase in mileage across the board, so your options are 30 mpg or 45 mpg. Now those vehicles run you $3,000 and $2,000 in gas costs. But since you have more disposable cash, you have no reason not to take the $1,500 in savings for the first vehicle and simply boost your driving to 45,000 miles per year, as it would have the same cost.

Basically, you’re providing no incentive to the consumer to actually reduce consumption… and you end up with urban sprawl and consumption growing just as fast as before… if you look back at CAFE’s results, they’re less than stellar.

If you simply jack up the price of gas, you give people the incentive to consume as little as possible, which is really the desired result of CAFE.

I have to say I am strongly against government mandates on many car issues including this one. The government wants to mandate air bags, backup cameras, tire pressure monitors, where does it end? If you want to help end the dependence on foreign oil then you go full bore drilling domestically. Additionally, we need to exploit our natural gas reserves and provide a positive environment for private companies (not government and without federal subsidies) to pursue green technologies (start by throwing out those inefficient solar panels).

I want the government out of my car, I should be able to choose which safety features I want in my car and which ones do not have a reasonable cost-benefit ratio. If the government does want to raise existing fleet fuel economy then it should be done in a gradual stepped process that allows the technology to develop without creating such high inflationary pressure on the the new car market.

On the topic of gas tax, do people forget that the much of our national fuel cost is in freight transportation and that you cannot increase fuel taxes without creating inflation in every other segment of our economy? Additionally, why would we want to use an increase gas tax to fund non-transportation related tax subsidies like ‘making work pay’? If you want to discuss national tax policy then I would say we need to increase the lowest tax brackets by one or two percent a year for a couple years in a row until we create some balance and sense in our tax code. Additionally, we need to quit dolling out cash to everyone who know how to declare dependents on their tax return, but now I digress.