CAFE Regs Are Prompting EV Development
But as Mark Twain, who was credited with once saying “The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated,” such is the gist of a piece on EVs by Automotive News after speaking with industry executives about the future of EVs at the LA Auto Show.
The reason? Increasingly stringent requirements for fleet-wide miles per gallon and emissions mandated for 2017-2025 by the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) rules.
CAFE calls for year over year upticks in the average mpg performance for a given automaker’s entire fleet, and pure EVs such as the Nissan Leaf burn no gas and spew no tailpipe emissions. Similarly, extended-range EVs and plug-in hybrids stand to drastically cut their gas consumption and emissions.
Such powertrains are seen as needed to hit a “54.4 mpg” target equating to low 40 mpg range on the window sticker on average by 2025.
“No carmaker makes 54.5 miles per gallon without alternative-fuel vehicles,” Automotive News quoted Nissan Division General Manager Al Castignetti as saying. “Direct-injection engines are not going to get you there.”
While others in the industry are only guardly optimistic, several spoken to generally consented to an alternate strain of sentiment within the collective unconsciousness in saying things like electric vehicles are “inevitable,” as Chrysler U.S. sales chief Reid Bigland said.
Fiat, which owns a controlling stake in Chrysler had on display in LA its 500e electric car. It was immediately panned as a mere compliance car in California by some, but Bigland’s statement reveals Fiat-Chrysler, while late to the EV game, has bigger plans ahead.
“The way the CAFE and regulatory environment is, in order to be compliant, most if not all OEMs will need some form of electrification in their product portfolio,” Bigland said.
Others were cited as well, but a consensus is while EVs are indeed off to a slow start with some winners and losers – and the politicized accusation by critics of the government “picking winners and losers” also muddying the waters, we’ll add – EVs are still being said to be on their way.
More often than not, executives indicated their EV development efforts are still, to mix metaphors, full steam ahead.
Perhaps rather than referring to a historical saying about a premature death for EVs, another ancient saying would be more apropos to describe what still looks like the infancy of a new kind of car – “Do not despise these small beginnings.”