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.