Okay, so I assume that everyone knows that the EPA is changing the way they test their cars which will lower the average mileage on just about every car that they test. I was just thinking about it and I realized that this is actually shockingly good news.
Currently according to federal law, car manufacturers must meet a certain fleet mileage for their light trucks (legal term for gas guzzling SUV's, pickups and minivans) and passenger vehicles (everything else). I forget what the exact figures are, but as far as I know, the requirements haven't changed which means that now these manufacturers are going to have to scramble to improve their fleet mileage in order to meet the old guidelines.
Does anyone have any other information on this that I don't know about? Are the car manufacturers filing suit against the EPA like they did with CARB a few years ago or are they going to comply?
Canada's government today announced that "voluntary compliance" on fuel efficiency improvements (which the manufacturers of course ignored) is finished. They will be regulated (probably adopting California's model).
They also say they're going to be "encouraging" consumers to buy more fuel efficient cars. No details yet - will be interesting to see if it's an income tax credit, sales tax rebate, whether it applies only to hybrids, or all cars above a certain level ???
Which means the new EPA testing should result in a CAFE average that many manufacturers can't meet w/ their current fleet, thereby forcing them to either sue the EPA to stop the new testing methodology or make more efficient cars. I vote for more efficient cars.
CAFE compliance is NOT based on EPA mileage estimates:
Three different sets of fuel economy values- NHTSA’s CAFE values, EPA’s unadjusted dynamometer values, and EPA’s adjusted on-road values exist. NHTSA’s CAFE values are used to determine manufacturers’ compliance with the applicable average fuel economy standards and to develop its annual report, the Automotive Fuel Economy Program Annual Update. The EPA’s unadjusted dynamometer values are calculated from the emissions generated during the testing using a carbon balance equation. EPA knows the amount of carbon in the fuel, so by measuring the carbon compounds expelled in the exhaust they can calculate the fuel economy. EPA’s adjusted on-road values are those values listed in the Fuel Economy Guide and on new vehicle labels, adjusted to account for the in-use shortfall of EPA dynamometer test values.
I believe higher gas prices are much more effective than FE mandates. And the easiest way to do that is bump up the gas tax a lot. The govt makes a killing off the stiff gas tax, and the car buying public will be much more FE conscious, and will roast Detroit way more effectively than the govt ever could if Detroit fails to improve FE.
Unlike FE, the costs of pollution are not so easily tied to the consumers' wallets. That's the proper place for govt regulation.
I believe higher gas prices are much more effective than FE mandates.
Market economy at work!
BTW: recent Detroit offerings have been getting great FE. Check the recent review of the Chevy Malibu on this site, and the '08 model of the same should be doing even better. Yeah, there are still the trucks to rake in the bad publicity but at least Detroits new trucks seem to do better than their competition for economy.
Pretty sure that the more people buy high FE cars, there will be an upward push on gas prices also. Again, market forces at work. (higher FE = less reduction in gas use as prices go up)
In the long run, I'm curious if there is simply come level of fuel cost - in terms of fuel expenses per mile in relation to income - that the the public is comfortable with and that we are effectively stuck at/near that level due to the market.