April 13th, 2012
The average EPA fuel economy of all new vehicles sold continues to rise, hitting a record high of 24.1 mpg in March. That’s up from just 20.1 mpg as recently as December 2007, and 22.7 mpg in December 2011. With gas prices hovering around $4 per gallon, consumers are seeking, and finding, more-efficient cars than ever before.
Along with gas prices outright shifting consumer behavior toward smaller and less-thirsty models, the world’s automakers are making more-efficient cars in every segment. Downsizing engines while using direct injection, forced induction or electric motors to maintain power is now practiced by everyone from Chevy and Ford to BMW and Acura.
Toyota sold more of its Prius line in March than ever before, while the Chevy Volt also posted record numbers. Will your next car’s gas mileage be a primary deciding factor in your purchasing decision? You’re not alone.
May 23rd, 2011
A great debate is raging on Capitol Hill regarding the future of government-mandated fuel economy. The Corporate Average Fuel Economy standard applies to every full-line automaker selling cars in the U.S., and influential environmentalist groups want to raise it to 62 mpg by 2025.
CAFE mandates are set through 2016, by which time car and light truck manufacturers must average 35.5 mpg across their total lines. The numbers don’t quite match up when compared with the EPA fuel economy ratings you’re used to seeing due to different calculation methods. Union of Concerned Scientists President Kevin Knoblach says that a 62 mpg CAFE rating equates to around 44 mpg on the window sticker, Motor Trend reports.
Auto industry execs deem such a large increase unfeasible, with some analysts predicting that new technology required to meet the standards would add up to $10,000 to the average price of every new vehicle. The government claims the actual resultant price increase would be much lower, around $3,500.
Stricter CAFE standards will mean heavy reliance on expensive new technologies.
A scenario could result where new, more fuel-efficient car buying becomes too expensive, and average Americans keep older cars on the road longer and longer. This would defeat the emissions-saving purpose of CAFE and put the recovering auto industry in jeopardy once again.
So what happens if automakers fail to meet the standard? Some manufacturers, Porsche and Mercedes-Benz among more recent offenders, have paid heavy fines as a result of sub-par mpg.
The great CAFE debate will continue on in the coming months, with President Obama set to lay down a proposal later this year for standards set to begin in 2017.
Bottom line? That’s just it: by forcing manufacturers to strive for a seemingly impossible task, at the end of the day, the consumer will end up footing the bill, both in the pocket and in performance.