With the US government close to releasing the finalized 54.5 mpg by 2025 fuel economy and emissions standards, Consumer Federation of America released a report to influence the federal government to maintain and implement the standards. According to CFA’s Dr. Mark Cooper, Director of Research, conducting a research study that included a consumer survey has clarified a few points:
1. Consumer demand for fuel efficient vehicles is driving all of this, and with vehicle technologies making big advancements in recent years, especially high performance four cylinder engines, it’s very likely that these standards will be met. And it explains why automakers are complying with the mandate. Gasoline price volatility in 2008 and 2012 is the main factor influencing consumer opinions.
2. The best thing about the 2025 model year fuel economy and emissions standards, and how they differ from what he calls “old CAFÉ standards” implemented in 2008, is that they’re technology neutral. There’s no requirement that X number of hybrid electric vehicles or plug-in electric vehicles have to be sold, or that it’s strict by vehicle class or size category, or what type of fuel will be powering them. They have to meet the fuel economy and greenhouse gas emissions standards, but it’s all built into the strategy they’re following today.
3. Meeting the standards will be probably be accomplished by sales of high mileage four-cylinder engine cars and crossover utility vehicles, and more fuel efficient trucks coming out, such as what Ford has been doing with EcoBoost in F-Series pickups. Hybrid electric vehicles will play a role in meeting the numbers, but other green vehicle sales are difficult to predict such as electric vehicles.
4. Even though environmental groups were pushing for fuel economy to pass over the 60 mpg mark, it’s better that they’re in the mid-50s, he said. The OEM engineering studies have shown that once you go past that mark, the reliability and safety come into question. There are strong, light-weight materials out there for manufacturing cars, but OEMs aren’t using a lot of them right now. They have everything in place now to meet the 54.5 mpg standards, Cooper said.