White House May Seek to Set 2025 CAFE Standards as High as 62 MPG

The Obama administration is reportedly considering taking the Natural Resources Defense Council up on its push to hike CAFE standards to 60 mpg by 2025. In fact, according to White House officials in a briefing conducted this morning, the EPA and Department of Transportation have set the range of numbers that they might recommend for the next adjustment in fuel economy standards at between 47 mpg and 62 mpg. Next year, the government will issue a draft of the proposed rule, specifying for the first time the number that it will seek.

The administration has already released a Notice of Intent to stakeholders like the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers for study, more than year before a final ruling is expected to be made. “The Alliance remains convinced that a single national program to improve fuel economy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions is the best approach for the environment, our customers, and our economy,” said the group in a press release today. “The Alliance is committed to working collaboratively with EPA, NHTSA and California to achieve these goals in a way that allows consumers to choose and afford vehicles that fit their needs.” The release serves as a reminder of how much things have changed since 2002, when AAM president Josephine Cooper said that a proposal similar to the standards that will take effect in 2012 “threatens jobs, the economy and family vehicles…”

But even as carmakers have capitulated on the need for a national fuel economy standard that will help to cut greenhouse gas emissions and steadily decrease the nation’s appetite for oil, it’s likely that they will fight to keep the the 2017-2025 CAFE numbers in the lower range of the possible numbers. “What we’re hoping for is that the regulation recognizes some of the uncertainty that still exists and allows flexibility to implement new technologies,” said Alliance spokesman Charles Territo last week.

But the push for 60 mpg has picked up a significant amount of steam since it was proposed by an NRDC-led coalition of scientists and interest groups earlier this month. Eight governors, representing New York, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Oregon, Washington, New Mexico, Maryland and Maine have sent a letter to the Obama administration in support of the 60 mpg mark. “We have seen the automakers meet goals time and time again,” said the governors in their letter. “We are confident that technological improvements, including the plug-in hybrids and pure electric vehicles that they are rolling out, will increase efficiency and affordability further and will make 60 miles per gallon commonplace.”

Meanwhile, according to a poll released several weeks ago by the Mellman Group, a new 60 mpg standard also has the support of the American public. Seventy-four percent of respondents said they were in favor, with 83 percent saying that they’d be willing to pay and extra $3,000 per vehicle to meet the standard if it meant that they could expect to save at least as much money on fuel costs within four years of purchasing that vehicle.

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  • Bob Gordon

    The Auto Channel believes that MPG is a code word for screw Americans “let them keep using gasoline”…if we were all using domestic, sustainable and green, High-test Flex-fuel (e-85),CNG, Propane, BioDiesel or even a Flux Capacitor, MPG would become just another personal economic choice, not a national security issue. What should be most important is not your vehicle’s MPG but which fuel your car or truck uses.

  • JamesDavis

    It is not going to do any good for the Obama administration to set any standards that far into the future because if another Republican gets in as president in 2012, those standards the Obama administration sets will go back down to 17 and 27 MPG and gas prices will go back up to $4.15 a gallon. There is no reason why the American auto makers cannot get that 60 MPG right now. Japan can already get 60 MPG.

  • Yegor

    Really 62 MPG is not that much.
    2010 Toyota Prius CAFE Unadjusted Average MPG – 71
    2010 Honda Civic Hybrid CAFE Unadjusted Average MPG – 59
    2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid CAFE Unadjusted Average MPG – 54


    And we are not counting Plug-ins yet!

  • DownUnder


    CAFE is about average fuel economy of all cars produced/sold by a manufacturer. If Toyota sells too many Tundras, then Priuses can’t help!

  • srland

    If we have not adapted fully electric by 2025 it’s all over for the planet.

  • Anonymous

    if CAFE numbers are different than EPA numbers, then the CAFE standards do not mean a whole lot…

  • Charles

    CAFE numbers are the unadjusted combined MPGs derived from the same data as the EPA sticker MPG numbers. The argument to use the unadjusted numbers is that the unadjusted numbers have been used from the beginning of CAFE. I do not agree with this, but if I made the rules, any vehicle over 5000 pounds would require a commercial license, and to get a commercial would require a clean driving record for five years.

  • Yegor

    Yes, CAFE numbers are different form EPA numbers and it is totally misleads people into believing that 2016 35 MPG is very strict. In reality Toyota and Honda already almost meat 2016 CAFE standard. CAFE numbers for the same car are about 30% higher than EPA numbers. They should stop this confusion.

  • Yegor

    There is a very simple solution to this confusion! Wherever they report on the news about CAFE standard they should always put EPA equivalent to it. So
    CAFE 35 MPG equates to EPA 27 MPG
    CAFE 62 MPG equates to EPA 44 MPG

    By the way 2011 Honda Accord 4 cylinder is CAFE 35 MPG (EPA 27 MPG) – already meats 2016 CAFE requirements!

  • BoilerCivicHy

    This is incorrect government intervention, another obama administration venture into messing with capitalism. If you want to make auto manufactures make higher mileage cars, then make it so people want to buy higher mileage cars. When gas skyrocketed, so did hybrid sales, so if you want to push the purchase of high efficiency cars, then make it worth while, the government can do this with taxes, and mostly usage taxes.

    1. Offer higher tax rebates on buying hybrids or other fuel efficient models
    2. Add a sales tax on inefficient cars like SUV’s
    3. Add a higher gasoline tax

    All three of these give americans the choice on whether they want to pay to have a less efficient car, and it will drive up sales of higher efficiency cars, and thus the price on them will come down. But of course our government is not smart enough to use the system to its advantage, no it would rather try to implement its own version of socialism on us all.

  • Anonymous

    Lakecountyhybrid, while I don’t agree with your Obama bashing ( and your suggestion is also only a covered up government intervention) and I don’t think this is the place for comments like this …. I have to agree with you that you can get people only by their money. When comparing the cars driven in countries with high gas prices, everyone can see that the cars are both, smaller and more efficient. The US needs a ‘luxury tax’ for dumb behavior like buying huge SUVs (at least for none commercial), higher gas prices would help. Seems like many Americans are not smart enough to rethink their choices in favor of the environment – they must see a true savings in the pocket, since this is all they care about. So higher gas prices and luxury tax seems to be the sad answer.

  • veek

    -Any mileage increases will actually come from the intelligence and efforts of engineers and product managers, not from the politicians in the photo cheaply trying to take credit for it. If we want to increase fuel economy we should put effort and money into technology, not rely on laws from a gang of incompetent and corrupt politicos.

    -Saying 74% of respondents favor 60+ mpg standards is like saying 74% of respondents favor ending global hunger. If you want to see what those respondents are actually buying, however, don’t look at the polls — look at the industry sales figures. You won’t find that 74% efficient car support there! It’s far more likely that future mileage figures will be “fudged” than that they will get 60+ real-world mpg, unless fuel prices or registration fees for low-mileage cars/trucks go considerably higher, or unless our engineers and designers are given adequate support.

  • Jim Bullis – Miastrada Company

    It all depends on what kind of nonsense is used to attach an ‘mpg’ value to electric power of cars, plug-in hybrid, or all electric. This nonsense can range from gibberish to outright almost but not exactly lying, to a bogus MPGE system to a roughly meaningful characteristic based on heat for respective types of power generation.

    Electricity is not a fuel. Power companies will use the cheap available coal fired generating capacity to make the electricity, and it has nothing to do with the ‘mix’ of generating types in the status quo. Coal is the fuel and electricity is the carrier of the fuel, much the same as a bicycle chain carries energy from one sprocket to another. Electricity carries energy from one rotating machine to another.

    Coal systems are 31% efficient; average in the USA.

    So CO2 comparisons should be made on the assumption that marginal response to new loads will be coal, and the CO2 emitted per BTU of heat is about 35% higher for coal systems than gasoline. Both coal and gasoline require processes that emit CO2 to get them to the point of conversion to heat, and these roughly balance each other.

  • Anonymous

    What the USA needs is immediate and substantial limitations on the power of the EPA and governmental agencies to impose such unreasonable standards, and to stop the destruction of the right of Americans to purchase and drive the vehicles that they prefer. The free market will take care of the problem.