The new fuel economy standards have been set and the ruling stands that automakers must achieve a Corporate Average Fuel Economy rating of 54.5 mpg for their 2025 model year passenger cars and light-duty trucks.
The model year 2017-2025 standards that were finalized Tuesday by the Obama Administration (coincidentally on the opening day of the GOP National Convention and one day after both GM and Chrysler said they will suspend political tours at their facilities until after the fall election) combined with current MY2011-2016 standards, will nearly double the fuel efficiency of current models and should save consumers more than $1.7 trillion at the gas pump while reducing U.S. oil consumption by 12 billion barrels, according to the federal government.
“These fuel standards represent the single most important step we’ve ever taken to reduce our dependence on foreign oil,” said President Obama. “This historic agreement builds on the progress we’ve already made to save families money at the pump and cut our oil consumption. By the middle of the next decade our cars will get nearly 55 miles per gallon, almost double what they get today. It’ll strengthen our nation’s energy security, it’s good for middle class families and it will help create an economy built to last.”
That said, earlier studies have shown the cost of applying these new standards into each new automobile will be passed along to the consumers to the tune of nearly two grand per vehicle (up to $3k according to the NADA), thereby negating any savings at the pump. Currently, automakers are working towards fuel economy standards that require new vehicles to achieve 35.5 mpg by 2016 and the administration says the standards issued this week allow for a mid-term evaluation for agencies to determine just how well automakers are reaching these goals and allow for any adjustments needed.
Advanced technologies play a key role in achieving current and future CAFE standards including advanced gasoline engines and transmissions, vehicle weight reduction, lower tire rolling resistance, improvements in aerodynamics, diesel engines, more efficient accessories, and improvements in air conditioning systems.
The program also includes targeted incentives to encourage early adoption and introduction into the marketplace of advanced technologies to dramatically improve vehicle performance, including:
• Incentives for electric vehicles, plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, and fuel cells vehicles;
• Incentives for hybrid technologies for large pickups and for other technologies that achieve high fuel economy levels on large pickups;
• Incentives for natural gas vehicles;
• Credits for technologies with potential to achieve real-world greenhouse gas reductions and fuel economy improvements that are not captured by the standards test procedures.
According to TotalCarScore.com, here are specific technologies automakers are using to achieve the new goals of fuel efficiency and reduced greenhouse gas emissions:
• Start-Stop Engines: Once reserved for hybrids, start-stop technology now improves fuel efficiency in non-hybrids by shutting the engine down when the vehicle is stopped.
• Variable Valve Control: Variable valve control maximizes fuel efficiency and performance by altering the opening and closing of an engine’s valvetrain based on RPM and throttle input.
• Continuously Variable Transmissions (CVT): These transmissions have an infinitely variable gear ratio that keeps an engine in its most fuel-efficient operating zone across a wide range of speeds.
• Active Aerodynamics: Modern cars are taking traditional aerodynamics a step further by actively altering their coefficient of drag according to vehicle speed and driving conditions.
• Lightweight Materials: Using high-strength steel, carbon fiber and aluminum allows automakers to create lighter cars without sacrificing safety and less weight means lower fuel consumption.
• 7+ Transmission Gears: A conventional automatic transmission with seven or more gears reduces fuel consumption by keeping the engine operating at peak efficiency at any speed.
• Direct Injection: An evolution of fuel injection, this method injects fuel directly into the combustion chamber in extremely precise amounts to maximize fuel efficiency and reduce emissions.
• Cylinder Deactivation: Shutting down one or more engine cylinders when a car is coasting, or cruising under a light load, reduces fuel consumption without impacting performance.
• Plug-In Hybrids: Hybrids have evolved from charging their battery packs while driving to charging their battery packs while plugged into either a standard wall outlet or high voltage “quick charger.”
• Mild/Light Hybrids: By using a smaller motor and battery pack than traditional hybrids, a mild hybrid can increase fuel efficiency with a minimal increase in vehicle cost or weight.
“Simply put, this groundbreaking program will result in vehicles that use less gas, travel farther, and provide more efficiency for consumers than ever before – all while protecting the air we breathe and giving automakers the regulatory certainty to build the cars of the future here in America,” said Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “Today, automakers are seeing their more fuel-efficient vehicles climb in sales, while families already saving money under the Administration’s first fuel economy efforts will save even more in the future, making this announcement a victory for everyone.”