Federal Government Delays Proposal on 2017 to 2025 MPG Targets
The decision by most auto companies to aggressively pursue hybrids, electric cars, and gas-powered cars with smaller engines is closely tied to aggressive fuel economy targets. Automakers will be required to hit an average of 35.5 MPG by 2016. In October, the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Highway Traffic Safety Agency said they were considering an even bigger jump by 2025—as high as 62 miles per gallon. Environmentalists applauded the effort, and argued that the increase is achievable with existing technologies.
Keep in mind that these numbers are not those found on window stickers, but the more generous values used for Corporate Average Fuel Efficiency regulations. Nonetheless, the percentage increase—and the associated cost and potential impact on vehicle safety—have caused the federal agencies to pause, according to Detroit News.
The agencies had planned to come up with exact numbers for 2017 to 2025, by the end of November. But the decision about proposed levels of fuel efficiency increases has now been pushed back to September 2011—with a final decision expected in July 2012.
Automakers are not happy about the high numbers and argue that higher efficiency will be too costly and require unacceptable compromises on safety. Regulators say that despite the average higher upfront cost—estimated between $770 to $3,500 depending on how far the government goes—would be recouped by consumers during four years of ownership. Automakers reply that the cost analysis is flawed.
The improvements will have to be spread across entire vehicle lineups. Therefore, the agencies expect vehicles to shed weight—by as much as 30 percent—in order to reach the higher proposed efficiency levels. The government will launch three studies to look at the impact of the regulations on vehicle safety.
Despite industry opposition, Toyota, Honda, General Motors, Ford and other automakers continue to expand their choice of high-efficiency gas models, as well as hybrids and electric cars. Hyundai, which will introduce the Sonata Hybrid early next year, aims to reach 50 mpg by 2025, ahead of government deadlines.