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Has CAFE reached the end of its usefulness?



  • KCRamKCRam Mt. Arlington NJPosts: 3,516
    We lost 25 years of fuel economy improvement because the government changed focus to safety improvement. In that time, NHTSA has mandated the high-mounted brake light, air bags, side-impact door beams, crash test standards, head restraints, tire pressure monitors, and a number of other items. The automakers told the government there'd be a trade-off, as some of what they wanted would create a weight increase - and power would increase so that the consumer would still get the performance they were accustomed to. Add in the repeal of the 55mph speed limit and customers needed cars to be able to reach 75+ as part of legal performance.

    Except that the automakers raised the power bar far higher than it really needed to be. Performance cars in the mid 80s were considered to of the line with just 200hp. Now we have minivans approaching 300hp, and pickup trucks with 800 lb-ft of torque. (Just as a basis of comparison, the city-bus engine of choice in the 80s, the Detroit Diesel 6V92TA [9.0L turbocharged diesel V6], generated 753 lb-ft in most applications, moving a vehicle with an empty weight of 25,000 pounds.)

    So now, the majority of vehicles sold today can snap off 7-second-or-less 0-60 times... while people are struggling to keep real-world mpg in the 20s.

    With the new standards, the automakers are going to try the same tactic... "we'll make more fuel-efficient vehicles, but they'll have to be lighter, smaller, weaker, slower, and possibly less safe in some crashes." And the government will agree to that, and it will be the 80s all over again.

    kcram - Pickups/Wagons/Vans+Minivans Host
  • benjaminhbenjaminh Posts: 2,877
    The president of Hyundai America, John K., has slammed the new standards because of their needless complexity and loopholes. He has a point. Essentially cars are held to a very strict standard, while large pickup trucks and SUVs are essentially given a complete pass and only need to make a small improvement, even by 2025. In other words, the unintended consequences of this might be to switch people from cars to large SUVs and Trucks.

    I still believe in CAFE, but bummer on the loophole...

    In terms of safety regs, it seems they have worked. Fatalities per passenger mile driven have dropped something like 70% since the 1960s...
  • steverstever Posts: 52,683
    "A new consumer survey by Consumer Reports finds that not only do most consumers want more fuel economy – no surprise there – but most also are willing to pay extra to get it as long as they will be rewarded with lower fuel and other operating costs during the years they own the vehicle.

    The Consumer Reports poll seems to indicate that people now believe that gas prices aren’t going to be falling over the long term and likely will be rising. Indeed, of the 564 respondents who said they would consider an alternatively powered vehicle such as a hybrid of electric vehicle, 89 percent said that their prime motivation would be to lower their vehicle operating costs, including fuel costs."

    Poll Finds We're Willing to Pay Extra For More MPG (AutoObserver)

    Or ... maybe CR statistics are questionable?

    "The rub is that consumers are not buying them – or at least not very many of them. In October, sales of small cars slowed and sales of advanced-drive vehicles (hybrids, electric cars, diesels, etc.) fell yet again in year-to-year comparisons, registering just barely over 2 percent of all U.S. vehicle sales".

    Consumer Reports Survey Flawed (AutoObserver)
  • steverstever Posts: 52,683
    "The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced aggressive new rules to raise the fuel efficiency of cars, SUVs and pickup trucks. The Corporate Average Fuel Economy, or CAFÉ, standards require an automaker’s fleet of passenger vehicles to average 54.5 mpg by 2025.

    The talked-about 2025 CAFE standard — usually described as 54.5 mpg — amounts to a figure of 36 mpg combined [highway and city driving] on a window sticker,” writes Dan Edmunds, director of vehicle testing at, on the company’s detailed CAFÉ explainer."

    Can Cars Meet the New 54 mpg CAFÉ Standards? Yes They Can (Sscientific American)
  • benjaminhbenjaminh Posts: 2,877
    Looks what BMW has done with the new 2012 500 series:


    2.0L 4-cyl. engine
    Automatic transmission
    Up to 23 cty/34 hwy mpg

    Amazing. 20 years ago, in 1992, a BMW 525i got 15 in the city and 23 on the highway.

    And the new car is actually larger, safer, and more powerful. I think that's a 32% increase in highway fuel economy. How did BMW do it? Through a small turbo 4 that has the power of a V-8 from 20 years ago, plus an 8 speed automatic transmission....
  • steverstever Posts: 52,683
    "U.S. exports of gasoline, diesel and other oil-based fuels are soaring, putting the nation on track to be a net exporter of petroleum products in 2011 for the first time in 62 years.

    A combination of booming demand from emerging markets and faltering domestic activity means the U.S. is exporting more fuel than it imports, upending the historical norm."

    U.S. Nears Milestone: Net Fuel Exporter (Wall St. Journal)
  • steverstever Posts: 52,683
    edited February 2012
    Hot on the heels of the news about the Honda hybrid missing fuel economy advertising claims and losing lawsuits over it, comes this test from Popular Mechanics.

    Mileage Moment of Truth: We Put 40 Mpg Claims to the Test

    PM's results were a bit different from Consumer Watchdog's claims based on CR's testing. (
  • steverstever Posts: 52,683
    edited May 2012
    "Thanks to the starling rise in obesity, every year Americans consumer at least a billion gallons more gas today than they would if people were as trim as they were in 1960," says The Atlantic. "For every additional pound of passenger weight, the United States uses up another 39 million gallons of fuel each year."

    Obesity is the Newest Fuel Economy Demon (Straightline)
  • steverstever Posts: 52,683
    edited August 2012
  • steverstever Posts: 52,683
    The feds' five-cycle, 43.9-mile testing methodology is arcane—almost 200 pages in the Federal Register, including the CAFE calculations—but that shouldn't surprise anyone, since the process attempts to capture a complex phenomenon, a vehicle's fuel economy, in just two numbers printed on new cars' so-called Monroney label. Even the EPA's "average" mpg number is weighted in a way not beyond dispute.

    It would be hard to overstate the consequence of these numbers. The numbers determine which vehicle can claim best-in-class mileage, who has to pay a gas-guzzler tax, and which technologies merit their relative cost in fuel savings. CAFE was designed to inflect a manufacturer's entire portfolio, to bend it toward higher fuel efficiency, and it does just that.

    [T]the feds' fuel-economy administrators are currently operating at a dead run trying to keep up with a host of new, highly digitized fuel-saving technologies, such as "Eco" throttle mapping and stop-start (the engine cuts out as the vehicle coasts or stops), which were practically invented to hack the EPA testing cycle."

    Ford's Fine C-Max Falls Way Short on MPG Wall St. Journal
  • KCRamKCRam Mt. Arlington NJPosts: 3,516
    While it's far from the best or mist accurate testing method, the one thing CAFE has going for it is the unilateral consistency. For the most part, you're comparing apples when you compare EPA numbers across manufacturers. Yes, Hyundai/Kia just got caught cheating, and there's no legit way to test the "fuel economy" of an electric vehicle, but for 99% of the buyers out there, it's a tool they can actually use.
  • steverstever Posts: 52,683
    edited April 2014

    "The average fuel economy of new vehicles sold in the U.S. last month was 25.4 miles per gallon — an increase of 5.3 mpg since October 2007. "

    Fuel economy increasing and emissions decreasing for new vehicle buyers (Detroit Free Press)

  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 57,604

    Putting challenges in front of automakers has, historically, produced a much better automobile.

    MODERATOR --Need help with anything? Click on my name!

  • benjaminhbenjaminh Posts: 2,877

    The average fuel economy of cars, light trucks, vans and SUVs purchased in the United States in May was 25.6 mpg, a 0.4 mpg improvement over the previous month, according to the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute.

    This marks the highest average mpg capability ever, topping the previous record -- 25.2 mpg in March -- by 0.2 mpg, the research institute said in a statement this week. The average is up 5.5 mpg from October 2007, the first full month of monitoring by the institute.

  • steverstever Posts: 52,683
    Average Fuel Economy for New Cars Holds Steady at 25.3 MPG in October

    "The unchanged average fuel economy is likely a net consequence of two opposing trends: less demand for fuel-efficient vehicles because of the decreasing price of gasoline, and improved fuel economy of 2015 model year vehicles compared to 2014 model year vehicles."
  • In California, when the new law is signed by the Governor, the standard will be 35mpg. Hybrids can do that as well as electric. Technology will advance, the goal is achievable. Yes, Diesel can do it now, but they will not allow dirty Diesel in 15 years, so better count on the hybrids.
  • benjaminhbenjaminh Posts: 2,877
    Progress toward 2025 goals is good, but slowly recently:

    "The average unadjusted fuel economy of U.S. light vehicles from 2014 needs to increase 57% to meet 2025 goals, according to the new WardsAuto CAFE Performance Index, based on EPA and NHTSA standards.

    The annual rate of improvement will need to be about 4% to meet those 2025 goals. Small and midsize cars are closest to their requirements, while large cars and SUVs need the most development.

    The WardsAuto Fuel Economy Index showed new light vehicles sold in the U.S. had an average window-sticker fuel-economy rating of 25.4 mpg (9.3 L/100 km) through the first-half of 2015, just 1.3% above like-2014. The results for calendar-year 2014, 25.0 mpg (9.4 L/100 km), were 2.2% higher than the prior year.

    A sharp drop in the average price of gasoline moved some consumers to larger, less-efficient vehicle types, thus slowing the rate of progress. These trends started last year and continue to hinder growth for 2015.

    Improvement in the index results was due to the increasing availability of more-efficient vehicles. While dealing with consumer demand for traditionally less-efficient cars and trucks, automakers are using smaller engines and higher-speed transmissions to reach CAFE standards. Four-cylinder engines powered 52.2% of U.S. LVs in model year ’14. Eight-speed automatics and CVTs have increased share at the expense of 4-, 5-, 6- and 7-speed units.

    Light trucks accounted for 52.6% of indexed sales in 2014, above cars for the second consecutive year. The rating for cars improved 2.9% from 2013 to 29.2 mpg (8.1 L/100 km). Light trucks averaged 21.1 mpg (11.1 L/100 km), up 2.8%. All eight WardsAuto vehicle segments exceeded previous index highs in 2014...."

    more at the link
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