Last post on May 18, 2009 at 6:03 PM
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Honda, Ford, Toyota
#14 of 22 new CAFE requirements start to hit by 2013
May 18, 2009 (12:06 pm)
From today's New York Times:
"Under the new standard, the national fleet mileage rule for cars would be roughly 42 miles a gallon in 2016. Light trucks would have to meet a fleet average of slightly more than 26.2 miles a gallon by 2016"
That's, of course, 42 mpg according to the way they tested mpg a quarter of a century ago. I'm not sure what that translates into for EPA's way today of calculating mpg, but I think it's a lot less. A lot. Total guess here, but maybe 30 mpg. Still, there aren't that many cars that get a combined city/hwy 30 mpg. The 2009 Civic, for instance, gets 26 in the city and 34 on the hwy, for a combined 29. That would about do it. In other words, we're probably going to be seeing a lot more new cars that are around the size of the Civic 5 years from now.
But they seem to have left a truck sized loophole for trucks, vans, suvs, etc. 26mpg? That's all?? By the old standard? That's not that much above what those vehicles make now. In other words, it seems like this standard like the last one encourages vehicle makers to make vehicles that are not strictly "cars" to get around the standard, which is silly, imho.
I think both should be held closer to the same standard. Well, maybe there could be a difference, but not that big.
Given global warming, declining supplies of fuel (and the relationship to terrorism, etc), pollution, etc., I think new stricter cafe standards are needed. But I'm not sure they've got it quite right. I also think our crumbling highway and mass transit infrastructure are in desperate need of huge amounts of money. It makes sense to raise the gas tax a bit for that, which would also help companies make the new cafe requirements.
I think all of this probably helps Honda and Toyota. Their vehicles tend to get slightly better mpg already. Although the Ford Fusion is already the MPG champ when it comes to midsize! That car already would make the new standard by a mile.
By 2013 I think this new cafe requirement will really start to have an effect on the cars we see on the road. It might make engines a little smaller too.
#15 of 22 Re: new CAFE requirements start to hit by 2013 [benjaminh]
May 18, 2009 (12:41 pm)
But they seem to have left a truck sized loophole for trucks, vans, suvs, etc. 26mpg? That's all??
I cannot think of a decent work truck in the US that gets close to 26 MPG combined. My gutless Ford Ranger is lucky to get 15 MPG with a 3.0L V6. If it had the 4 cylinder I would not get up the hill to home. The only way they will reach that figure is with a small diesel PU Truck. EPA and CARB will shoot them down. It will continue to be dueling government agencies with nothing getting done.
#16 of 22 Re: new CAFE requirements start to hit by 2013 [gagrice]
May 18, 2009 (2:39 pm)
That's 26 mpg under the old fashioned and "easy" testing standards from when cafe was first instituted back in the 70s, back when they tested hwy mpg at lower speed without the ac running. In other words, a 26 by the old system (but still used by the new cafe) might only equal something like 19 mpg (just a wild guess) with the new system used by the MSRP stickers on new cars today. Still, from what you are saying, that would be a 4 mpg improvement over what you're getting...
With a new sophisticated engine of the same size, that number is probably possible.
Still, the bottom line remains. They are asking for a pretty big leap for cars, and a rather small jump for trucks, suvs and mini vans. In other words, if you want a bigger vehicle it's more likely 5 years from now that there might be a "truck" in your future.
#17 of 22 EPA's different MPG tests and CAFE
May 18, 2009 (3:14 pm)
To clarify further, I think there have been at least three standards that the EPA has used over the years to measure mpg.
The first was the super easy one that lasted from c.1975 to maybe around 1984 (not sure on that, can someone help me). Call this EPA test #1
But everyone complained that it was impossible to get EPA's numbers, and so they came out with a new standard in c. 1985. This standard shaved some mpg off of the numbers of the earlier standard. And so we had EPA test #2
It still, however, was out of whack with real world mpg, and so in 2008 the EPA devised a new test that took into account higher speeds, ac use, etc. This one finally got it right, I think. A lot of people are getting pretty close to the numbers. EPA test #3
CAFE, however, is still based on that earlier, very flawed and inflated mpg number from c. 1975, EPA1. And the car companies, not surprisingly, like it that way. When they say they are going to move the average mpg to 42, it sounds amazingly high. 42 mpg!!!! That would imply that starting in 2016, when the standards are fully in place, almost all the cars would be tiny or hybrids, or all electric, or whatever.
But that is not the case. What the cars really have to get by 2016 is not 42 mpg by today's test, but maybe (again, a total guess here) more like 30 mpg. It's still a big jump, no doubt about it.
To attempt, maybe foolishly, to try to explain it a different way, imagine a 4 cylinder mid size car, say a 2007 Honda Accord auto 4 cylinder. Go to the EPA's website where they have a conversion to show what your car made in EPA 2 would get under the new EPA 3.
Looking it up, under the EPA 2 test our 2007 Honda Accord auto got a combined city hwy mpg of 28. It converts to the new EPA 3 test to a combined mpg of 25.
But the old number of EPA 1 used for CAFE was wildly inflated. I remember in 1981 the Chrysler K-car was widely advertised as getting "41 mpg."
Totally guessing here, but I think Honda's 2.4 liter vtec is much more advanced and efficient than Chrysler's 2.2 from 1981. In other words, under the EPA1 test I think a 2007 Accord might have beat a K-car under the same testing conditions.
Total guess, but I'm thinking a 2007 Accord under EPA1 would get something like 30 in the city and 44 on the hwy, for a combined mpg of something like 36.
Now c. 36 is the number to think about, and no doubt Honda's engineers are thinking about it (or whatever the actual number is) now. Between now and 2016 Honda needs to move the Accord number from this 36 (today's 25 under EPA3) up to 42.
If they make the Accord just a couple of inches smaller (and it has grown to a rather large size, which I have to admit I like) and shave a few hundred pounds, put a slightly smaller but mostly just more efficient engine in it (Honda is apparently has been working for years on its own version of something like BMW's "valvetronic" technology, which increases efficiency) you'll move up to 42 under EPA 3.
In other words, my guess is that the next generation Accord (due c. 2013 or 2014) will probably be able to meet the new standard, or at least get very close. And of course, CAFE is about averages, and so they could still sell some high powered 6 cylinders that didn't meet the standard, as long as they sold enough Civics, Fits, and Insights that beat the standard.
Sorry this is so long.
(I'm on vacation, and so I get to enjoy wasting a bit of time thinking about all of this stuff...)
Any one else have any thoughts on all of this? Man am I wordy. Apologies...
#18 of 22 Re: EPA's different MPG tests and CAFE [benjaminh]
May 18, 2009 (4:12 pm)
You have touched on just how convoluted the EPA tests have been over the years. They use a one size fits all and it does not work that way. The last change came about as a result of the hybrids having a much higher rating than most people were able to get.
Now my understanding of the CAFE numbers is this: They take raw mileage figures from the EPA tests and those are used for the CAFE standards. In reality they are much more optimistic. I don't think it will be close to fixed by 2013. It has been a joke since the implementation in the 1970s and only gotten worse. Just because Congress mandates that you will get 26 MPG combined in a PU truck does not overcome the physics of building such a truck. I need a truck that is not gutless, just to satisfy some fat cat politician trying to please the enviro wackos lobbying Congress.
I would look for VW diesels to be major players by 2013
#19 of 22 Re: EPA's different MPG tests and CAFE [gagrice]
May 18, 2009 (4:45 pm)
gagrice: It is convoluted.
I think I'm more worried about global warming and our dependence of oil from the middle east than you are. But that's fine.
But one of my main points is that you won't have to have a gutless truck. The "truck" loophole means that large trucks with powerful V-8s (or large and advanced V-6s that get the power of V-8s) will still be around because of the truck "loophole."
Ditto with large and powerful SUVs, minivans, and the like. They'll still be here in 2016. They'll just have more advanced engines, and some will be hybrids. And, of course, like today there will be some small trucks, SUVs and vans that will exceed the average, which will allow others to get well under the average and still be for sale.
Agree with you about diesels. May have a future...
#20 of 22 Re: EPA's different MPG tests and CAFE [benjaminh]
May 18, 2009 (5:13 pm)
Superior motovation to preserve & drive the performance cars of the 60's.
GW is mentioned, but why give credance to a political myth?
#21 of 22 Re: EPA's different MPG tests and CAFE
May 18, 2009 (5:53 pm)
CAFE must have been modeled after our tax code. Both are needlessly complicated, confusing and full of logic defying loopholes. And, as if that weren't enough, they're inefficient and inequitable. Other than that, they're brilliant.
If the folks who created our federal tax returns swapped jobs with those who designed CAFE, nobody would realize there had been a personnel change.
#22 of 22 Re: EPA's different MPG tests and CAFE [hpmctorque]
May 18, 2009 (6:03 pm)
Funny! Ain't that the truth.
In fact, it's so confusing I made at least one little mistake myself. I can't edit it any more, so I'll just put the corrected (I hope) version of the part with the mistake below:
"Now c. 36 is the number to think about, and no doubt Honda's engineers are thinking about it (or whatever the actual number is) now. Between now and 2016 Honda needs to move the Accord number from this 36 (today's 25 under EPA3) up to 42.
If they make the Accord just a couple of inches smaller (and it has grown to a rather large size, which I have to admit I like) and shave a few hundred pounds, put a slightly smaller but mostly just more efficient engine in it (Honda is apparently has been working for years on its own version of something like BMW's "valvetronic" technology, which increases efficiency) you'll move up to 42 under EPA 1, which is used for calculating CAFE."
The end of the last sentence is where I made the correction.
(originally I wrote EPA3 where I meant to write EPA1.)