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Feds To Mandate Up To 62 MPG By 2025; What Does It Mean For You?

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Sample used-car window sticker showing gas mileage, for a 2000 Honda Insight

Sample used-car window sticker showing gas mileage, for a 2000 Honda Insight

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Two days ago, the NHTSA said that it would require annual gas-mileage improvements of somewhere between 2 and 7 percent each year between 2017 and 2025.

Corporate average fuel economy requirements have already been set through 2016, an action facilitated by the Obama Administration soon after taking office.

In 2016, across the entire vehicle fleet weighted by sales, new-vehicle gas mileage will have to average 34.1 miles per gallon.

47 to 62 mpg?

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency adminstrator Lisa Jackson and President Barack Obama

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency adminstrator Lisa Jackson and President Barack Obama

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Now, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has issued a notice in the Federal Register on its rulemaking for the period after that, for model years 2017 through 2025.

Final rules will be issued next year.

The notice says the agency won't require less than 2 percent increase in gas mileage each year, but it said it has "tentatively concluded" that the maximum possible improvement that automakers could achieve would be 7 percent.

That would mean average fuel efficiency reaching 47 to 62 miles per gallon by 2025--though the agency said it would assess the progress of technology in about 2020 before finalizing numbers for 2022-2025.

Costs and payback periods

The NHTSA is now researching the impacts of the different improvement levels, including the environmental benefits, the costs--to automakers and consumers--and the effects on auto safety.

2011 Nissan Leaf electric car during IIHS crash testing

2011 Nissan Leaf electric car during IIHS crash testing

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Depending on the final level, vehicle cost would increase from $770 to $3,500, the agency said. Consumers would see a payback on the higher cost of a 6-percent improvement within four years, according to its modeling.

Projections from the Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor, Michigan, are more dire. A fleet average of 60 mpg, it says, would raise vehicle prices 22 percent, slash sales 25 percent, and cost hundreds of thousands of auto-industry jobs.

Unfortunately, retail car buyers historically overweight the initial puchase price and undervalue the impact of total ownership cost, including fuel expenses.

In other words, lower price is always more important than running costs--even if it doesn't make economic sense.

Same safety, more hybrids

But what would the increases mean for car-buying consumers?


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Comments (28)
  1. Once again, Master Voelcker is into minimizing the importance of fuel economy. The difference between 50 and 62 MPG is a 24% improvement. This means 24% less oil to import (maybe more) and 24% less pollution. These points are brought up in the links provided but sadly not reiterated by Master Voelcker.
     
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  2. John, it's 24 percent of a much, much smaller denominator. Reducing oil imports by 4 gallons of gasoline (IIRC, roughly 8 barrels) over 1,000 miles driven is far less important than the same 24 percent improvement when it's from 8 to 10 mpg. That saves *25* gallons. How you can argue that saving 4 gallons is just as important as saving 25 gallons?
    The point is that you get decreasing benefits the higher up you go on the very non-linear MPG scale. Do the math.
     
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  3. @John Voelcker,
    If you reread my comment, I didn't argue with your math, I argued with your attitude. An attitude that says that all that matters in MPG is dollars. A 24% improvement is a big deal and you make it out to be nothing.
    But regarding your distraction regarding ridiculous non-existent 8 MPG vehicles, let met say this. These are CAFE numbers so they are the averages. So when the average moves up by 24%, that means all vehicles are moving up in MPG not just the high MPG vehicles.
     
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  4. On to another point. Speaking of "Do the math". Did you "Do the math".
    On the first page it says 2% to 7% increase results in 47-62mpg. On the second page it says that 3% results in 47mpg. They can't both be true.
    Also, by my calculations, 2%-7% yearly increase results in 40.8 to 62.7 MPG. The 40.8 mpg number is a long way from the 47 MPG listed in the article.
    What am I missing?
     
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  5. @John: Once again, we're going to have to agree to disagree. A 24 percent improvement is a big deal, sure, but the denominator counts. In a complex, contentious sociopolitical issue that wraps in vehicle design, global competitiveness, "fuel tax," political beliefs, government intervention in product design, energy security ... and lord knows what else ... my job is to provide context for readers.
    I believe it's important to point out that some 24-percent improvements make more difference in terms of GALLONS OF GASOLINE than other 24-percent improvements.
     
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  6. More: If you think 8-mpg vehicles don't exist, I challenge you to drive a fully loaded Chevy Suburban at 75 mph on the freeway and see what mileage you get.
    It's the other end of the scale from your Prius, granted, but we test a lot of cars at High Gear Media, and mileages like that do exist in the real world.
    Finally, the sad fact is that for *most* car buyers, it IS true that "all that matters in MPG is dollars." Clearly environmentally-minded buyers exist, of course, you among them, but they are a minority: http://www.greencarreports.com/blog/1050748_why-buy-green-cars-for-the-cost-savings-not-the-planet-survey-says
    I'm happy to review and publish countervailing data if you can provide it.
     
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  7. Unfortunately, you provide the wrong context in this case. These are CAFE number which means that all vehicles in the product line will improve, not just the high mileage vehicles.
    Also the idea that you are providing "context" to readers is laughable. The context you provide here is money, not CO2, not pollutants, not foreign trade, etc, as some other authors on routinely do in the green space.
     
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  8. I think what bothers me the most about this issue is that if you read the links that John Voelcker supplies, they often have good environmental context. It is true in the current article. John Voelcker removes that context which is really unfortunate.
     
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  9. Ranting aside.
    So here the simple factoid error that I have now confirmed. The 47 to 62 MPG corresponds to a 3% to 6% improvement, not the 2% to 7% improvement.
     
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  10. Oops that should "factual"
     
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  11. @John: Your calculations actually highlight a point I left out in the interests of space: The NHTSA was previously evaluating annual increases of 3 to 6 percent. The latest report that sparked the story indicates they have expanded that range by 1 percent on either end, i.e. 2 to 7 percent.
     
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  12. I can appreciate that, but now you have concatenated two facts together than no longer create an accurate statement.
    You state 2 to 7% and in the next sentence say "That would mean average fuel efficiency reaching 47 to 62 miles per gallon." Actually, it doesn't mean 47 to 62 MPG.
     
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  13. 62 mpg would be awesome. My car is rated at 28mpg and I was pretty happy with that until gas here in Calgary, Canada hit $1.30 per litre or about $5 per US gallon. Even though I car pool so I only drive to work every other day me an my wife put on about 40,000 miles per year and it adds up.
     
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  14. Peter B: the more you drive the more hybrid make sense. For example Ford Escape Hybrid taxi pays off additional price over standard model in year and a half. And that without any subsidies from Government.
     
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  15. @ John Briggs:
    Lay off Mr. Voelcker already! He's doing a decent job diluting the tecno-nerd data down into something the rest of us can understand & not fall asleep reading. And his point on GALLONS CONSUMED is right on - as in, every Gallon in reduced consumption reduces CO2 emissions, etc. --- so wouldn't most environmentalists rather get all the 15 MPG SUV's & trucks up to 25 MPG instead of trying to get small sedans from 35 MPG to 45 MPG? 10 MPG increase but drastically different # of gallons consumed per 100 or 1,000 miles driven! Which is better for the environment? To me it's obvious.... score one for Mr.Voelcker!
     
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  16. @ColtChiefTitans,
    Unfortunately, You are just one more poor soul that John Voelcker has managed to misguide.
    These are CAFE standards, they are the average for all vehicles. So when he says that a 24% change in CAFE is nothing, he is saying that a 24% change in all vehicles is nothing.
    No one at the EPA is proposing just improving car MPG and not truck MPG no matter how many times John Voelcker claims otherwise.
    To answer your question, environmentalist would like to see both trucks AND cars improve, not one or the other. Your question implies a very, very false choice.
    Later,
    John C. Briggs
     
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  17. OK @John Voelcker, You are on RE "I'm happy to review and publish countervailing data if you can provide it. "
    http://www.cleanenergycouncil.org/files/Topline_Strategy_Report_Why_People_Really_Buy_Hybrids.pdf
     
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  18. @John Voelcker, You have consistently degraded the Prius and claimed the people purchased it to show off or make a personal statement.
    You have also claimed that it does not make financial sense against a Toyota Corolla.
    You have claimed that people primarily purchase it to save money not the environment.
    You have also claimed that it is not a fun car.
    Well the link has some survey data suggesting otherwise.
     
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  19. Firstly 66% of the people wanted an environmentally friendly car versus 16% that wanted to save money on gasoline.
    35% of respondents would have purchased a more expensive car if they had not purchase a Prius. This suggest the car is immediately less expensive.
    89% of respondents have reduce energy usage in their house suggesting and consistent environmental train of thought.
     
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  20. The report points out that while it is natural to compare a Honda Civic Hybrid with a Conventional Civic, "that comparison represents a false choice."
    These customers, if they had not purchased a Prius would have purchased a vehicle "costing thousands of tens of thousands more such as the Audi A6, BMW X3, or Acura TL.
    The report talks about the "Prius' ability to tap into a broad market segment - upper middle class Americans who care about the environment, but are not necessarily active in the environmental movement."
    In other words, people how are taking action to improve the environment, not just make a public statement.
     
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  21. And my favorite point (even if it is only 5%). 5% said they purchased the Prius as a "Fun Car" as their primary reason. Yep that is right, a "fun car". Even more important to these people than saving the environment, or saving money, or anything, the Prius is a "fun car."
    Go ahead, a dare you to publish that. I suspect you have never put "Prius" and "fun car" in the same sentence without a negation in there somewhere.
     
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  22. As for your 8 MPG trucks. Sorry the very worst EPA rating is listed at 10 MPG. So let's just say that using an 8 MPG vehicle as any kind of reference is hyperbolic.
    And even the 10 MPG trucks get 15 MPG highway or nearly twice your reference figure of 8 MPG.
    Not sure why you insist on using as a reference an MPG rating that is beyond the worst of the worst. Perhaps you might use the CAFE 27.5 MPG as a comfortable reference the next time you need to compare something.
     
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  23. I love the way Obama manufactures goals as if announcing them actually meant something (his silly
    and meaningless one million electric car goal is a perfect example of yet another oxymoron goal from the WH ox and fearless leader). Of course, even if we are still using gasoline at that future date, I can see a very large portion of the driving public simply refusing to buy one of these baby buggys. I'll keep what I have.
     
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  24. By the way, I just heard that electric cars are not going to be immune from these new fuel requirements.
    Electric cars will be required to achieve 5 or 6 miles per kilowatthour (it's not yet settled), which will thus disqualify the Tesla Model S, the Tesla roadster, and anything with the same efficiency as either the Volt or the Leaf. These vehicles are simply way too profligate in their consumption of
    precious electricity.
     
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  25. @Kent: Interesting. Can you provide a source for that efficiency requirement, please?
     
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  26. I would love to see EPA standards for EVs. Here is the data I have see so far.
    32/37 KWH/100miles Chevy Volt
    33/36 KWH/100miles Nissan LEAF
    32/33 KWH/100miles Tesla Roadster
    So the roadster is the most efficient (if the EPA is to be believed anyway).
     
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  27. While I greatly appreciate that for once, a media outlet actually knew that the difference between these CAFE fuel economy figures that are being discussed and the figures you see on the monroney sticker, I'd like to clarify or correct on thing in the article.. It says that a vehicle that gets 62mpg on the CAFE fuel economy cycle would be approximately 50mpg on the monroney sticker.. It's actually more along the lines of 44mpg...not 50mpg which is approximately the fuel economy of the 2004-2009 Prius or the 2012 Honda Civic Hybrid..
     
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  28. While I greatly appreciate that for once, a media outlet actually knew that the difference between these CAFE fuel economy figures that are being discussed and the figures you see on the monroney sticker, I'd like to clarify or correct on thing in the article.. It says that a vehicle that gets 62mpg on the CAFE fuel economy cycle would be approximately 50mpg on the monroney sticker.. It's actually more along the lines of 44mpg...not 50mpg which is approximately the fuel economy of the 2004-2009 Prius or the 2012 Honda Civic Hybrid..
     
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