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Meeting 54mpg CAFE Standards Not As Difficult As It Sounds

Cause it really means 36mpg. But more on that later. First, the rant.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced aggressive new rules to raise the fuel efficiency of cars, SUVs and pickup trucks. The Corporate Average Fuel Economy, or CAFE, standards require an automaker's fleet of passenger vehicles to average 54.5 mpg by 2025. That number extends existing CAFE rules, which set the fleet average at 35.5 mpg for 2016, up from the current level of 27.5 mpg.

It seems so obvious, i don't even know why we're discussing it. Technology is supposed to move forward. Things are supposed to improve over time. With the exception of cars and fuel efficiency, apparently.

Although many car companies said earlier this year that they would support the then-proposed CAFE goals, grumbling has ensued. Automakers have resisted CAFE increases since the early 1980s, each time protesting that redesigns and technology improvements needed to reach the new targets would either be too difficult to engineer or too expensive to manufacture.

So, car manufacturers want us to believe that in 30 years technology is still not up to improving vehicle mileage from 27.5 to 54.5 mpg? Not only that, but it will continue to not be up to meeting this challenge 14 yrs from now. Really? C'mon. Really?? My phone is a computer. My music player is smaller than a deck of cards and holds 160Gb worth of songs. I can beam books onto my ereader from anywhere. You seriously want me to believe that given 44yrs, you can't figure out how to make cars run on less fuel? I'm calling Bullshit.

The kicker is that many of the technology improvements have been sitting on auto industry shelves for years.

AHA! Give me a dollar!

Furthermore, although the new CAFE numbers sound high, they translate into less taxing goals on the road. The mileage ratings come from running cars on machinery in labs that do only a fair job of mimicking actual road conditions.

"CAFE mpg still comes from the original pair of tests that are now widely viewed as bad predictors of real-world mpg. The 34.1 mpg CAFE target for 2016 is actually equal to only 26 mpg on a window sticker. The talked-about 2025 CAFE standard -- usually described as 54.5 mpg -- amounts to a figure of 36 mpg combined [highway and city driving] on a window sticker," writes Dan Edmunds, director of vehicle testing at Edmunds.com, on the company's detailed CAFE explainer. (The Edmunds.com site is widely recognized as the go-to place for investigating new and used cars and automotive technology.) So if you walk into a showroom in 2025 and see car with a sticker that says it gets 36 mpg "combined," it meets the CAFE 54.5 mpg requirement. Suddenly the new rules don't sound so difficult to attain.

So, you see, it's really a fuel efficiency of 36mpg in the real world. It really doesn't sound all that impressive or daunting when you put it that way. And it just makes me more pissed off at the car industry who claimed that the only way to meet these standards was to pull up the average by increasing the number of electric cars in their fleet and nobody is going to want that many electric cars.

Well, let me put it this way - I looked at the trend of increasing gas prices, and now I have a Prius. I get nearly 50mpg on it. Suck on that, automakers!

By min | November 17, 2011, 3:26 PM | Liberal Outrage