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   Carrying Saleen wheels and Bullitt wheels.

Friday, May 22, 2009


Edmunds is making a big deal about the difference in EPA "window sticker" vs CAFE fuel economy standards. Read about it here. They're reminding us that the window sticker fuel economy is a (downward) adjusted number which takes into account more typical customer usage (like A/C). The CAFE city FE test (FTP75) is run on a chassis dynamometer, at 72F, with a cold engine, with A/C off, and various other standard conditions.

The "two standards" aren't really two standards, the legal standard is CAFE FE (unadjusted). The fuel economy labels for consumers are required by law, but cars are not regulated to that number.

Edmunds does provide a handy list of vehicles that might meet the 2016 standards today, and not surprisingly, they are all sub-compact and compact cars, and hybrids.

This is instructive. In 2016, affordable cars which meet the new CAFE standards will be compact cars. Anything larger will be much more expensive, as carmakers will have play tricks such as reduce weight (aluminum, carbon fiber), add hybrid drives, add gasoline engine technology (turbo direct injection), or perhaps clean diesel.

Today, the average car is a "midsize" vehicle, somewhere between a Toyota Camry and a Honda Civic. In 2016, I suspect the average car will be a compact, about the size of a Civic.


10ksnooker said...


The result is the ignorant people will be driving around in suicide clown cars, the rest will being doing the Cuba thing on the big old heavy safe cars.

So point out where in the Constitution does it say that people have to drive suicide clown cars and die at rates higher than the Iraq war because of it.

The can build Volgas, but they can't force people to actually work for and buy Volgas. The failures of all flavors of communism, including Obammunism.

The car mags hardest hit ...

Anonymous said...

Kae Davis thinks it can be done.
Time will tell.

Anonymous said...

IIRC, CAFE is Corporate Average Fuel Economy, which means that the fleet must average that number, not every car must be below that number.

Furthermore, if the automaker is out of compliance then they pay a fine. Historically some of the smaller automakers who specialized in large cars simply factored the fine into their price -- it was something like $50/car in the old days. The problem was that the fine was applicable for every car sold, so the big 3 couldn't afford to do that.

So, if I were a corporate planner I would have to look at how to get the average down. One of the old tricks was to sell a bunch of rebadged Japanese imports, which was a big part of why, for example, Chrysler had that partnership with Mitsubishi in the old days. Another trick is to discontinue the low-mileage, moderately profitable car lines.

Of course, the other trick will simply be to downsize the engines, which is what the auto industry did in the 1970s and early 1980s. Frankly, there is a lot of opportunity here. We've gotten so used to having sedans with 0-60 times of 8 seconds or less that we forget how special that kind of acceleration time used to be. We don't NEED 3.8L V6s in mid-size sedans -- Europeans do fine in 2.0L 4 and 6 cyclinder engines. Heck, the BMW 520i tops 200kpm on the Autobahn just fine, only takes a little longer to get there.

My guess is that you'll start seeing steep price differences between small and larger engines for the same cars.