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How Automakers Will Get to 54.5 MPG

Battery cars are only part of the answer.

by on Aug.29, 2012

At 47 mpg, the new Ford C-Max will be one of the market's most efficient vehicles. But it still has a long way to go to meet the new 54.5 mpg CAFE standard formalized this week.

When Ford launches its new C-Max hybrid microvan later this year it will deliver a solid 47 mpg in the EPA’s combined city/highway test, making it one of the most fuel-efficient vehicles on the road. Yet that’s still about 15% short of the target the White House has set for the auto industry with the new mileage standards that will be phased in between now and 2025.

Most major automakers signed onto the compromise regulations announced last year and officially released on Tuesday. But most echo John Krafcik, the CEO of Hyundai Motor America, who admits “We don’t yet know how we’ll get there.”

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Electrification will almost certainly play a role, in some form or another.  But don’t expect to see America switch to battery cars, most industry analysts contend.  The technology will likely remain too limited and too expensive over the next dozen years – and the infrastructure just won’t be there, contends Jim Hall, of 2953 Analytics.

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Proposed 54.5 MPG Standard Wins Support of Labor, Consumer Groups

Consumers should save money from Day One, advocates insist.

by on Jan.17, 2012

The proposed 54.5 mpg rule could create 100,000 new jobs, according to UAW Pres. Bob King.

The United Auto Workers is out to mend its once-robust ties to the environmental movement.

In the past, the union had opposed raising fuel economy standards because it feared higher standards for trucks could lead to the elimination of jobs. During much of the last three decades, the union had been persuaded that changing the fuel-economy standards would weaken the domestic carmakers’ tight grip on the US truck market.

The union reversed its position in 2009 under pressure from the Obama administration, which was in the midst of bailing General Motors and Chrysler.  But this time the union voluntarily teamed up with various environmental groups to support new standards that will boost federal fuel-economy standards.

In the Know!

UAW President Bob King said Tuesday that he is convinced the new standards, which will raise fuel standards for automaker to 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025, will help create new jobs in the U.S. by promoting new technology.

“The proposed rules are sensible, achievable, and needed,” King said, adding “the incremental increase in the price of a vehicle will covered by the money consumes will save by using less fuel,” added King, who cited UAW legend Walter Reuther’s dictum that it not only wanted clean factories, it also wanted clean lakes.

King also said in the past the union has to reestablish its ties to groups in the environmental movement to bolster its overall position in American society.

“They are good for the auto industry and its workers, good for the broader economy, good for the environment and good for our national security,” said King. “The drive to bring innovative fuel-saving technologies to market is transforming the auto industry in the United States and creating good jobs from the research lab to the factory floor.”

King said proposed standards to increase fuel economy and reduce tailpipe emissions have broad economic and social benefits and enjoy wide public support – a position echoed by environmental leaders during testimony in Detroit.

The proposed rules also take into account the importance of specialized vehicles such as big up trucks, which are vital to domestic manufacturers.

King joined several environmental, industry, educational and citizen groups to testify before the U.S. Environmental Protection Administration and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration about new standards proposed by the Obama administration.

“With these rules in place, there’s a much smaller chance you’ll see ugly pictures of beautiful birds covered in petroleum,” said Larry Schweiger, CEO of the National Wildlife Federation.

“We’ll reduce greenhouse gas pollution by 2 billion tons, and cut our consumption of oil by 3.4 million barrels a day. That will reduce the need for risky drilling in fragile habitats,” Schweiger said.

David Foster, Executive Director of the BlueGreen Alliance, a partnership between U.S. labor unions and environmental organizations, said: “These standards are moving America to a clean energy economy that creates good jobs that are also good for our environment.

“2012 is expected to be the third straight year of double-digit auto sales growth for the US, with many consumers upgrading their older vehicles for cleaner cars now available on the market. The 54.5 miles per gallon standard will continue to fuel that comeback for years to come,” said Foster.

The Detroit hearings brought out some dissenting opinions from the likes of Don Chalmers, a New Mexico Ford dealer who served as a representative for the National Automobile Dealers Association.  He cautioned that federal regulators avoid “rushing headlong” into new rules that could have unintended consequences.

On a financial front, Chalmers argued that the new CAFE rules will bump monthly payments up by $60 to $70 a month and, perhaps more concerning, result in vehicles that buyers won’t want.

“If the customers don’t want to buy these products, we all lose,” he cautioned.

The proposed rules, which will modify standards already set to rise to 37.5 mpg by 2016, have caused a split within the auto industry itself.  General Motors, Toyota and Hyundai are supporting the change, the Korean maker’s U.S. CEO John Krafcik telling TheDetroitBureau.com, “Of course, we’re positive on it.”  But several makers, including Volkswagen and Daimler, have refused to lend their support.

Paul A. Eisenstein contributed to this report.

EPA, DOT Aim for 54.5 mpg by 2025

How will automakers meet these new rules?

by on Nov.17, 2011

Automakers could build more electric vehicles such as the Nissan Leaf to offset gas-powered vehicles. New fuel economy rules for the 2017-25 model years introduced Tuesday are projected to save nearly $6,600 worth of fuel per vehicle, offset by an extra $2,000 per car in new technology to improve fuel economy.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Department of Transportation unveiled their joint proposal that increases fuel efficiency requirements to 54.5 mpg if all reductions were made through fuel economy improvements.

The improvements would save consumers an estimated average of up to $6,600 in fuel costs over the lifetime of a 2025 vehicle for a net lifetime savings of up to $4,400 after factoring in related increases in vehicle cost. Overall, the net benefit to society from this rule would total more than $420 billion over the lifetime of the vehicles sold in from 2017-25, the government said.

Get Your Efficiency Here!

“Today’s announcement is the latest in a series of executive actions the Obama Administration is taking to strengthen the economy and move the country forward because we can’t wait for Congressional Republicans to act,” according to the release.

But the National Automotive Dealers Association said that the new standard could end up hurting the environment.

So what will these new vehicles be like and what technologies will automakers use to reach these goals? Here are some predictions: