2014 Volkswagen XL1, 2013 Geneva Motor ShowEnlarge Photo
The Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) target of 54.5 mpg by 2025 has caused cheers from some people, and jeers from others.
In reality, that target won't be as difficult to hit as the numbers suggest, as the average on EPA window stickers will be lower--closer to 40 mpg in reality. For some though, that's still a little too much, too soon--and the standards have faced accusations that meeting them will damage business.
Volkswagen is hoping to smash those limits in Europe, and far earlier than 2025--setting itself a target of nearly 60 mpg in Europe by 2020.
Euro emissions standards
In Europe, targets for efficiency are a little different from those in the U.S. The European Parliament has set emissions limits, rather than economy targets--tightening standards every few years to reduce both CO2 emissions, and harmful hydrocarbon, particulate matter, nitrogen oxides and carbon monoxide limits.
The next level of these emissions, Euro 6, comes into force in 2014--though some vehicles already meet these conditions.
In addition, many European countries set sales and road taxes based on a car's CO2 emissions, so reducing these is a sure-fire way to get drivers interested in your cars.
Volkswagen aims low
According to Autocar, VW chairman Dr. Martin Winterkorn says VW is aiming for a fleet-wide average of 95 grams per kilometer of CO2 by 2020.
This corresponds to an average of 70.6 mpg in imperial gallons--or about 58 mpg in U.S. gallons.
While these numbers are based on European combined fuel consumption figures, which are less realistic than those set by the EPA, it will signify a huge effort by VW to reduce its average fuel consumption and emissions in under a decade.
Volkswagen Golf TDI BlueMotionEnlarge Photo
The company is confident it can meet a self-imposed 120 g/km CO2 target by 2015--lower than the official target of 130 g/km, which some carmakers (like Fiat, which sells mainly small cars) has already met.
VW's Golf Bluemotion, a 1.6-liter diesel eco model announced yesterday, already hits 85 g/km and over 70 mpg in European testing. The ultra-economical XL1 goes even better. While only likely to be available in small numbers, 261 mpg economy and 21 g/km CO2 puts it well below the target limits.
Even Volkswagen's regular models already get close to the intended figures, but it's likely VW will need to use electric vehicles, hybrids and ever more efficient diesels to reach its 2020 target.