2015 Ford Fiesta
Meeting U.S. Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards was expected to be tough work for carmakers, but so far Ford doesn't seem worried.
The carmaker is on track to achieve the required fleet average of 54.5 mpg (equivalent to about 42 mpg on the window sticker) by 2025, it says.
That's what Ford CEO Mark Fields told industry trade journal Ward's Auto in a recent interview, noting that low gas prices won't cause Ford to alter its product plans meanwhile.
2015 Ford Focus
Low gas prices have some analysts predicting lower sales of fuel-efficient vehicles in favor of larger, heavier crossovers and SUVs.
However, Fields said Ford believes prices will eventually go back up, although they may remain low longer than the automaker originally thought.
He also expects a "robust" midterm review of progress in 2017, ahead of the implementation of the final phase of the tougher CAFE standards.
Most analysts expect that carmakers will use the current period of low fuel prices to call for a rollback or delay of those CAFE rules.
2015 Ford C-Max Hybrid
But carmakers have to meet stricter fuel-economy (or carbon emission) standards in other countries as well; Ford has been consolidating its lineup so that it builds more cars that can be sold across multiple markets.
Fields said this globalized strategy will keep Ford committed to more-efficient cars even if a full-scale SUV boom happens in the U.S.
Perpetually-high fuel prices will always make smaller cars more attractive in Europe, and Ford now builds fewer region-specific models. Most of its European volume cars--like the current-generation Focus and Fiesta--have now made the transition to the U.S. market.
That should put Ford in a good position to meet the 2025 CAFE goal--and explain its CEO's confidence.