NHTSA:

Auto Industry is Ahead of Fuel Economy Technology

1

The Midterm Evaluation of Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) Standards report issued in July 2016 by the Environmental Protection Agency(EPA), National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the California Air Resources Board (CARB) set the stage for comments on 2022-2025 CAFE standards.  The comment period ends on September 30, 2016 and some congressional leaders have asked for a further 60 day extension to receive comment.  Reading the details of the report is very enlightening and has largely been overlooked by the media.

Fuel Economy to Double from 2012 to 2025  In the rules established in 2012, fuel economy is to double by 2025 and green house gas emissions are to be cut in half.  This would save 12 billion barrels of oil over the lifetime of 2012-2025 model year cars and light trucks and save consumers billions of dollars in fuel costs.

Report Under-Estimates Truck Percentage of Light Vehicle Market  At the time the initial rules were set, the truck mix was assumed to be 33% of the light vehicle fleet.  Given today’s low gas prices and the popularity of crossover SUVs, the light truck mix is over 60% of the market today and is projected to grow to over two thirds of the market by 2020.  In the Midterm Evaluation the government agencies show the highest truck mix to be 52% with low fuel prices continuing.  If fuel prices return to peak levels seen during the last decade (not projected), the light truck mix is assumed to be 38%.  Given the reality of the market, both of these estimates are conservative and very low.

Automakers Ahead of Schedule in Meeting Future CAFE Requirements  To date, the Midterm Evaluation concludes “auto manufacturers have over-complied with the program”.  This is a surprising statement from agencies that often accuse the industry with foot dragging in fuel efficiency and safety technologies.  They note that “fuel economy technologies are entering the market at rapid rates” and that the costs of adding these technologies have not been as high as estimated back in 2012.

Consumers Have Accepted Enhanced Powertrains  The report also notes that consumer acceptance of advanced fuel efficiency technology has largely been positive.  Ford’s EcoBoost turbocharged powertrain technologies have been well accepted (and strongly advertised).  Stop/Start technology is becoming more accepted according to AutoPacific’s consumer research.  Stop/Start shuts the engine off when stopped and then restarts the engine immediately when the accelerator is applied.  Some Stop/Start systems are seamless.  Others are rough on start-up. As the systems improve acceptance will improve.

Enhanced Gasoline Powertrains Can Meet 2025 CAFE Standards  To meet 2025 CAFE requirements, the agencies identify several technologies that will play an important part.  Most are enhancements to gasoline powertrains.  Tops on the list are transmissions with 8-speeds or more (70%) .  General Motors and Ford are working together to develop multi-speed transmissions.  More engines will be turbocharged (54%).  Stop/Start will become more commonplace (38%).  The most interesting fact is the report assumes less than 2% of the vehicle fleet will be full electric vehicles and less than 1% will be a plug-in hybrid.  Mild hybrids are estimated to be 14% and full hybrids will be 14% to meet 2025 CAFE.  There is only passing mention of fuel cell vehicles.

Substantial Cost Increases to Meet Future CAFE Standards  Improving fuel economy is not free.  Back in 2012, cost increases of over $3,000 per vehicle were estimated to meet 2025 standards. The cost is now estimated by the agencies to be around $1,250 (over a 2021MY vehicle).  Nowhere in the report does it mention how much the cost to get from 2012 to 2021 is.  The report estimates that meeting the 2022 to 2025 standards will increase lifetime vehicle costs by $87 billion.  This is estimated to be offset by fuel savings of $120 billion and other benefits of $55 billion.  The net benefit is estimated to be $88 billion.  Like many government reports, the arithmetic is vague and the conclusions are shaky.

AutoPacific’s bi-monthly Fuel Price Impact Study shows that consumers are not particularly willing to spend more for a vehicle that is more environmentally friendly.  Consumers also say that their present vehicle is clean enough and the focus should be on cleaning up other sources of pollution.  The Midterm Evaluation does not mention that there has been any research conducted to determine consumers’ willingness to pay substantially more for higher fuel economy vehicles.

Plug-In Electric Vehicles Not Needed to Meet Federal CAFE  Perhaps the most interesting conclusion in the report is that plug-in electric vehicles are not needed to meet the Federal 2025 CAFE standards.  This is not welcome news to Tesla’s Elon Musk or Nissan’s Carlos Ghosn.  The primary reason electric vehicles (EVs) and plug-in hybrid vehicles (PHEVs) will impact the overall vehicle fleet are to satisfy California’s mandate for zero emission vehicles (ZEVs) in the fleet.  California’s regulations also are shared with northeastern states.

Even Tougher Standards in the Future?  The report is very complimentary of the auto industry’s progress in adopting enhanced technologies to meet future fuel economy requirements.  While some might hope that this would lead to a reduction in future standards, it might result in even tougher fuel economy goals.


Continue Reading

NHTSA Unfairly Burns the Volt’s Reputation

2

If there is one thing that bothers me is the notion of guilty until proven innocent.  Go and visit other countries and this is the way of life there.  Not so in the U.S., unless you work for NHTSA.  Recent headlines have said that the Volt is basically a tinderbox on wheels…when you have a side impact with a light pole or tree.  Statistically unproven and contrary to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety findings that the Volt is a safe vehicle for the masses.


Continue Reading

Impact of Cash for Clunkers Program

0

The Cash for Clunkers Program Ended at 8PM EDT on Monday August 24.  According to government statistics, 680,114 Cash for Clunkers deals were made using $2.88 billion of the $3 billion authorized for the program..  The average clunker received a $4,235 rebate.  Reimbursements are coming very slowly to dealerships and the government is putting more processors on staff to handle the backlog.  Overall, a rare successful stimulus program.

On July 24, 2009 new car dealers in the United States began accepting trade-ins of older vehicles not worth much for new cars. Based on their fuel economy and the fuel economy of the new vehicle purchased, customers received a voucher for $3,500 or $4,500 to apply to the purchase of a new car or light truck.

Ultimately, the results of this program may be the sale of slightly over 700,000 new cars and light trucks with about 250,000 incremental to what would otherwise have been sold. But the impact goes deeper. There will have been substantial sales tax revenue from each sale going to states and cities that sorely need the income. Additional income taxes will be generated from the additional commissions and salaries dealership personnel otherwise would not have earned. The list goes on.

A brief synopsis of the impact of the Car Allowance Rebate System (CARS) is shown below the fold…

* * * * *

Continue Reading

Tire Safety Week

2

Did you know that the week of April 23 was Tire Safety Week? Most folks don’t know that. But tire safety is a very important subject.
Most folks think that tires are just round and black and usually don’t pay much attention to them, but tires are your only contact with the road and your driving safety depends largely on the performance of your tires. You can have the best handlng car in the world, but if you are running on unsafe tires you are courting trouble.
Check the Air Pressure in Your Tires
Auto industry professionals agree with the tire companies. You should check your tires at least once a month. What should you check? First check the air pressure in your tires. This is easy to do. Maybe you’ll get your hands dirty, but the alternative can be grim. If your tires are underinflated, they will tend to run hotter than they should. This could lead to a blow-out. The recommended tire pressure for your vehicle is found on a label on the door jamb. Follow this recommendation, and you should optimize the life of your tires.
Check the Tread Depth
Tires with a lot of mileage on them may be running out of tread depth. When your tread wears down you can more easily lose traction in slippery road conditions. Also, a worn tire will heat up and is prone to failure. If you can see the top of Lincoln’s head when you put a penny in the tread, you don’t have enough tread depth. At this point, you should strongly consider replacing your tires.

Tires Can Also Wear Out from Age

Several auto manufacturers have recently recommended that you replace any tire that is over six years of age no matter what its tread depth is. In Japan, some companies recommend a longer period – ten years. In any event, common sense prevails. If the sidewalls of your tires are showing small cracks it’s a good idea to take them to your tire dealer and have them inspected.
Air Pressure in Tires Also Can Impact Fuel Economy
Each month, VehicleVoice surveys members to determine what they have done to improve their fuel economy. With gas prices skyrocketing, we expected to see a high percentage of panel members checking their tire pressure to maximize fuel economy. Wrong. Based on the results from our Fuel Price Impact Survey, not enough of you check air pressure. So, for economy’s sake – and safety’s sake – check your air pressure and tread depth monthly.


Continue Reading

Government Study Confirms Large Vehicles are Safer

2

The January 2006 report issued by the National Highway and Transportation Safety Agency (NHTSA) concludes that larger vehicles are safer than smaller ones. DUH! It took a six page pdf report written by a government contractor from URC Enterprises to summarize crash statistics from 1997 through 2004 to reconfirm the basic equation in physics – F=MA (force equals mass times acceleration).
In a time when more people may be considering smaller cars to offset the skyrocketing cost of fuel, new small B-Segment entries like the Toyota Yaris, Nissan Versa and Honda_Fit are being introduced. These cars meet the need for small, fuel efficient transportation and certainly carry impressive safety credentials like crush zones and air bags galore. Even our own VehicleVoice survey research shows that that there is increased consideration for small cars these days. So, what’s the right thing to do?
Well, as the government report confirms, F still equal MA.


Continue Reading

Follow VehicleVoice

RSS Feed   Facebook   Twitter

Membership

Join

Recent Winners

Sid P., Washington - $100
Ken G., Nevada - $100
Brad T., Wisconsin - $100
Tom M., Virginia - $100
Kathy F., New Jersey - $100
John M., Massachusetts - $100
Mike M., California - $100
Carol R., Texas - $100
James D., Georgia - $100
Martha B., New Jersey - $100
Kerry B., Pennsylvania - $100

What is VehicleVoice?

About Vehicle Voice