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VW blasts new CAFE standards, alleges bias towards truck makers

Automakers are officially choosing sides on the new proposed Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards, and while nearly every company has come out with statements of support, Volkswagen has chosen to head the camp opposed to the plan. The German company has released an official statement on President Barack Obama’s 54.5 mpg corporate average by 2025, saying that VW doesn’t endorse the move. Why? Apparently the people’s automaker feels that the regulations unfairly target passenger cars while giving large trucks special treatment.

According to VW, passenger vehicles face a five percent annual increase in fuel economy, while light trucks merely have to attain 3.5 percent annual increases. While it’s true that Volkswagen doesn’t produce anything that could compete with the Ford F-150, the company’s stable is stocked with a few vehicles that will fall under the light truck designation, including the Routan minivan and Touareg SUV. Additionally, Volkswagen says that the proposal pushes automakers to manufacture more large and inefficient models.

Volkswagen finds itself in thin company when it comes to its stance. So far, nearly every other automaker has come out in support of the move, including Ford, Chrysler, General Motors, Hyundai and Toyota among others. Hit the jump for VW’s official statement.
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Statement by Tony Cervone, Executive Vice President, Communications, Volkswagen Group of America Regarding Proposed CAFE Standards

The Volkswagen Group is a global leader in fuel efficiency and associated technologies, and we are committed to the ongoing negotiations with the White House on reaching maximum achievable fuel economy/GHG reduction standards.

Volkswagen does not endorse the proposal under discussion. It places an unfairly high burden on passenger cars, while allowing special compliance flexibility for heavier light trucks. Passenger cars would be required to achieve 5% annual improvements, and light trucks 3.5% annual improvements. The largest trucks carry almost no burden for the 2017-2020 timeframe, and are granted numerous ways to mathematically meet targets in the outlying years without significant real-world gains.

The proposal encourages manufacturers and customers to shift toward larger, less efficient vehicles, defeating the goal of reduced greenhouse gas emissions.

Volkswagen Group clean diesel products are among the most fuel efficient vehicles on the road today. Our new mid-size Passat TDI, built here in the US in Chattanooga, TN, achieves 43 mpg highway and can travel almost 800 miles on a single tank of fuel. If one-third of the vehicles on the road today were clean diesel, the US would save 1.4 million barrels of oil a day. Yet there is no consideration in the current proposal for the positive impact clean diesels can have on fuel consumption here in the US.

We look forward to continuing our discussions with the White House to achieve the “one nation standard” that is fair and equitable.

Government Run Amok

VW does make a good point. It affects them more than others. At a time when their main corporate goal is to become the #1 seller of cars world-wide, this is a bit of an obstacle. I don’t think that they have a problem in general, and they are well-positioned to take advantage of it with their TDI line and auto on/off technology used in Europe. They are just trying to hamper the competition to gain an advantage in becoming the #1 seller world-wide.

CAFE stands for corporate automobile fuel efficiency. According to Webster’s dictionary, an automobile is defined as a usually four-wheeled automotive vehicle designed for passenger transportation. If CAFE standard is to serve its intended purpose, it should get rid of the distinction between cars and “light trucks”, which, more often than not, are used as passenger transports.

“…it should get rid of the distinction between cars and “light trucks”, which, more often than not, are used as passenger transports.”

No matter what is done, ther will be some inefficienceies. Unless there is a way to segregate business users, like carpenters, from the rest of us, then I think there should be a two tiered system.