Once Again, Automakers Easily Meet CAFE Standards

Every time the federal government announces an increase in the CAFE standards for auto mileage and emissions, conservatives, libertarians and auto business lobbyists claim that those standards are virtually impossible to meet and will drive up costs in a huge way. And every time, that turns out not to be true. And so it is again.

For the second year in a row, new cars are ahead of the game when it comes to reducing their carbon footprint.

According to a new report from the Environmental Protection Agency, the auto industry beat out domestic greenhouse gas emissions standards by a “wide margin” in 2013, with cars getting an average of 1.4 more miles per gallon than required.

This trend is promising as the EPA is tightening greenhouse gas compliance regulations on light-duty vehicles — cars and small trucks — each year in an effort to meet the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards’ target of an average fuel economy of 54.5 mpg by 2025. Nine of the 13 biggest-selling automakers beat the CAFE targets.

Vehicles from 2013 achieved an all-time record fuel economy of 24.1 mpg, a 0.5 mpg increase over 2012 and an increase of nearly 5 mpg in the last decade. The CAFE standards covering vehicles made between 2012 and 2025 are projected to save 12 billion barrels of oil, cut 6 billion metric tons of greenhouse gases and save drivers more than $8,000 in fuel costs, according to the EPA…

“The EPA report shows that tailpipe emissions are falling, improvements in air-conditioning technology are happening even faster than expected, and on average, vehicles are a full year ahead of where they need to be to keep up with the standards,” said Don Anair, the research and deputy director of the Clean Vehicles program at UCS.

Two-thirds of the over-compliance in 2013 vehicles came from reductions in tailpipe emissions, according to the EPA, with the remaining third deriving from air conditioning improvements and automakers using credits for building things like flex fuel systems.

“In the design of the program, we anticipated automakers taking advantage of these different market mechanisms, so this was always part of our projections,” Chris Grundler, the EPA’s director in the Office of Transportation and Air Quality, said on the press call. “The fact that the industry is doing substantially better is very good news and tells us that this kind of innovative policy design is indeed producing the results that we expected.”

Give them a target they have to hit and they will innovate and find different ways to meet it, without bankrupting themselves or hurting consumers. Imagine that.

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  • theguy

    “they will innovate and find different ways to meet it, without bankrupting themselves or hurting consumers. Imagine that.”

    I guess some people can’t, because they conceive of capitalism as a fragile little flower. Bend the stem too much, and it breaks. In reality, a mixed economy can work quite well with the right parameters.

  • colnago80

    This may be misleading because it is my information that SUVs aren’t counted as part of the automobile fleet but are considered trucks which are subject to a lower standard.

  • http://www.pandasthumb.org Area Man

    conservatives, libertarians and auto business lobbyists…

    But you repeat yourself.

  • http://www.facebook.com/den.wilson d.c.wilson

    Of course they’re meeting the new CAFE standards easily. That’s because these same auto manufacturers have been meeting much hire standards in Europe for years now.

  • http://en.uncyclopedia.co/wiki/User:Modusoperandi Modusoperandi

    d.c.wilson “That’s because these same auto manufacturers have been meeting much hire standards in Europe for years now.”

    Sure, but is it worth importing all that European-style socialism to do it? Why, just the other day I saw some kids driving a 2CV and complaining of ennui.

  • moarscienceplz

    I’m all for tighter CAFE standards, but we also need to keep the pressure on car buyers. SUVs started disappearing from the roads when gas got to the $4/gal point, but now that it’s back below $3, the maroons are buying Expeditions and Escalades again. I hate to make life harder for poor people, but I think we really need a gas tax that grows every year to keep people focused on burning less of it, because them thinking about the well-being of their children and grandchildren sure isn’t happening.

  • davem

    Vehicles from 2013 achieved an all-time record fuel economy of 24.1 mpg

    Jeez, are you guys even trying? I know someone who owns a 7.5 tonne bus, and gets that.

    target of an average fuel economy of 54.5 mpg by 2025

    The US got to the moon quicker than that, in the 1960s. Time for a bit more inspiration? There’s an ad on UK TV this week, showing a Mitsubishi something or other with a claimed 168mpg. Now that’s a real target to aim at.

  • http://www.ranum.com Marcus Ranum

    Give them a target they have to hit and they will innovate and find different ways to meet it

    More like: “give them a target that’s ridiculously easy to hit and – after the whining pissing and moaning is over, they’ll pat themselves on the back, then gasp ‘no! no more!'”

  • http://www.pandasthumb.org Area Man

    …the maroons are buying Expeditions and Escalades again.

    Don’t worry. As soon as oil creeps back up to ~$80 a barrel, these people will whine to the government about gas prices, the media will publish sob stories about how it takes them $50 a week to fill up the tank, and Republicans will blame Obama and environmentalists. This time they will have learned!

  • http://www.ranum.com Marcus Ranum

    average fuel economy of 54.5 mpg by 2025

    I laugh when I read shit like this. I owned a 1989 Honda CRX HF – the one with the upgeared 1200cc engine – it cruised comfortably at 80, merged just fine at highway speeds (you had to rev it like a motorcycle but that was fine…) and got 55mpg stock. Mine actually did a bit better than that because I was mostly on highways, boosted the air cleaner and enlarged the exhaust, and had harder tires on it. I put 120k miles on it with no problems until some asshole in a buick did a U-turn into me and crushed it.

    That’s what I mean about how Detroit whines and complains about the CAFE standards. Today, they’re just implementing vehicles that are nearly as efficient as some of us drove in the 80s. Way to go!

    The problem is Americans want to drive tanks. Because of the semis on the road, it seems like a good idea. Basically, American highways become like “world of tanks” – evolution favoring size is the norm.

  • magistramarla

    In the hotel where I stayed in London there was an all-electric BMW on display. This was a high-end hotel, so the car was being touted to high-end customers. That certainly wouldn’t work here in Texas. People here seem to be suspicious if the high-end companies advertise hybrid models, let alone an all-electric model.

    Meanwhile, we happily drive our Prius, getting 47 MPG in town and 50-60 MPG on the highway. My hubby commutes to work, but our gas bill is usually $50-$60 per month.

  • sundoga

    The funny part about this? ACTUAL capitlalist theory (as opposed to the everything-for-the-rich doggeral of the Libertarian morons) says this is exactly what will happen – given a problem, a sensible and intelligent company will utilize it’s industry and innovation to circumvent that problem while still providing the good or service that is their lifeblood at a reasonable price.

    We need a little less politics and a little more Adam Smith in our boardrooms.

  • caseloweraz

    Once Again, Automakers Easily Meet CAFE Standards

    If you look at this from a technical standpoint, it’s not that much different than changing the body style and interior cabin amenities of the cars — and they’ve been changing the styling and amenities every year since ??? (well, for fifty years at least.) So modifications to improve mileage aren’t that big a deal.