Autos would get up to 62 mpg under U.S. plan

By Reuters
Posted Oct. 1, 2010 at 3:21 p.m.

Automakers would be required to nearly double fleet efficiency to 62 miles per gallon by 2025 under the most ambitious scenario of a U.S. government outlook on fuel economy and emissions released on Friday.

Gasoline and electric hybrid vehicles and electric cars would play a crucial role in meeting the top range targets, according to the preliminary assessment presented to industry as a starting point for developing fuel standards for 2017 cars and light trucks, including SUVs, pickups and vans.

“We must, and we will, keep the momentum going to make sure that all motor vehicles sold in America are realizing the best fuel economy and greenhouse gas reductions possible,” Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said.

The auto industry is wary of any mandates to reduce gasoline use and carbon emissions output that would increase costs or adversely affect vehicle design and production schedules.

A trade group representing the biggest auto companies, the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, said the proposal was based on “very preliminary and incomplete data.”

The group’s chief executive, Dave McCurdy, said the biggest carmakers, including government-owned General Motors Co, Ford Motor Co, Toyota Motor Corp and Volkswagen AG would closely review the administration’s assumptions on technology, gas prices, and alternative fuels.

Investors want certainty in automaker business plans and cost calculations. To ensure car companies have enough time to make adjustments, the plan by the Transportation Department and the Environmental Protection Agency rolled out a range of efficiency gains to see what would be feasible.

The options presented would boost fuel efficiency by 3 percent to 6 percent annually from 2017 to 2025. Those percentage gains translate into a mileage requirement range of 47 mpg to 62 mpg.

The top standard would save 45 billion gallons of oil, equal to almost 1.1 billion barrels, and reduce carbon pollution by 450 million tons by 2030, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council.

The Energy Department forecasts U.S. gasoline demand will total 3.3 billion barrels this year.

U.S. passenger vehicles emit about 20 percent of the nation’s carbon emissions and consume about 44 percent of its oil, figures show.

Standards imposed last year require automakers to achieve 35.5 mpg by 2016, up 42 percent from current levels.

Automakers would rely on numerous conventional engine, transmission and component technologies and lighter vehicle designs to meet new targets. These would include gasoline and diesel power. More than half of all cars in Europe run on diesel fuel.

Gasoline-electric hybrids, a fractional segment of the market now, would play a prominent role in meeting 62 mpg. Plug-in hybrids and all-electric vehicles would also be a component of the fleet mix.

Automakers do not have detailed product plans extending to 2025, but most have them through 2020 and are planning for greater electrication. The degree to which automakers turn out more hybrids and embrace electric vehicles depends on gas prices, battery costs, consumer charging infrastructure, future requirements to reduce emissions, the analysis said.

The government’s plan was put together with the help of California state officials. California is a leader in aggressive steps for reducing carbon emissions blamed for global warming, and will play an role in determining the federal approach because of its sizable sales market.

Some vehicles would already meet the lower-range goal, including the 2011 Toyota Prius, which is a hybrid that averages 50 mpg for highway and city driving.

Consumers could realize fuel savings of between $4,900 to $7,400 under the plan that environmental and scientific groups called a good step so long as the final product resulted in higher-end fuel savings.

“The auto industry has 15 years to meet these new standards – that’s plenty of time to use innovation and technology to reach 60 miles per gallon,” said Brendan Bell, the top lobbyist for the Union of Concerned Scientists.

The administration will review comments from industry and the environmental and scientific community before proceeding with a formal proposal. A final rule is not expected until 2012.

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  1. Bud Oct. 1, 2010 at 4:18 pm

    It’s official !! USA is officially 15 years BEHIND ALL European countries !

  2. Ben Oct. 1, 2010 at 4:36 pm

    This article could use some work. Like what’s the driving force behind this efficiency increase? Is the goal primarily to ween off of foreign oil dependence or contribute less to greenhouse gas emmissions?

    Also, there’s a handful of typos.

  3. Chris Soprych Oct. 1, 2010 at 4:41 pm

    My Honda 250 motorcycle get 55 mpg. It has a motor the size of a lawn mower engine. How the heck are car makers going to get 62 mpg out of a car that has a range of 500 miles without plugging in for a recharge?

  4. B Oct. 1, 2010 at 4:53 pm

    Enjoy your cars with some pep now, because in 2025 we’re all going to have lawnmower engines in our cars. I’ll be shocked to see this goal achieved. Let me decide if I want high mileage or not. I’m fine in the 20s with 274 horsepower.

  5. mark Oct. 1, 2010 at 5:06 pm

    By then we will be paying $10.00 to $15.00 per gallon so we will not save any money because oil companies are still going to get theirs!!!!

  6. Lon Oct. 1, 2010 at 5:25 pm

    “My Honda 250 motorcycle get 55 mpg”

    It seems that there may be something wrong with your bike. My 800cc motorcycle gets over 60 mpg.

    62 mpg should be no problem at all. I drove a Geo Metro Xfi in 1990 that got 58 mpg. I would certainly hope that auto makers could increase efficiency by 4 mpg in 35 years.

  7. Bud Oct. 1, 2010 at 5:39 pm

    Chris : Take a look all the Turbo Diesel Injection engines that are found in over 90% of all new european cars now…even a 2.0 Liter engine offer exceptional torque even at low revs. This results in tremendous fun at the wheel, thanks to their effortless acceleration and performance. Because it’s aturbocharged engine, driven by the exhaust gases, it squeezes air more tightly into the cylinders. The air is then cooled (cool air takes up less space than hot air) and diesel injected directly into the cylinders at very high pressure through a nozzle. It’s this intensive mixing of highly atomised fuel with the compressed air that leads to better, more efficient combustion.

    It’s such a shame that Americans continue to bury their head in their fat belly’s and refuse to educate themselves about something that Europeans have been selling for over 25 years !

  8. KPO'M Oct. 1, 2010 at 5:53 pm

    Bud, even the European diesels don’t get 62MPG. VW sells the Jetta with the TDI engine in the US. It gets 40MPG on the highway. It puts out a lot of torque, but is still a bit slower than the base engine.

  9. Scott Free Oct. 1, 2010 at 5:58 pm

    Chris: your Honda 250 only gets 55 mpg (only slightly more than my Buell 1200) because bare bikes are horrible from the standpoint of aerodynamics. Back in the ’80s, for the Vetter mileage contest, a Yamaha 175 was streamlined to the max by the Rifle company, and delivered over 300 mpg while averaging better than 50 mph on the Pacific Coast Highway near Big Sur (a challenging course with steep hills and curves).

    B: I beg to differ. I’m old enough to recall when the first round of mileage standards was seen as a death sentence for high-performance cars. Guess what: the new generation of “muscle cars” will leave those old 50s-60s beasts in the dust, while going twice as far on a gallon of gas. It’s all about bringing the weight down (newer, lighter materials), bringing the drag down (wind tunnel designs) and improving powertrain efficiency (turbocharging, more gears in the trans, hybrid systems, etc).

    If we can combine the attributes of the motorcycle (low weight, low frontal area) with those of the car (aerodynamic full bodywork, hybrid powertrains), we should be able to develop vehicles that get over 100mpg and deliver better performance than anything on the road today. It’s not a technological problem. It’s an economic and managerial problem: we have to demonstrate that there’s a market, and drag the auto industry forward into it.

  10. Scott Free Oct. 1, 2010 at 6:01 pm

    I should add that all three US automakers have already demonstrated they can build full-size family cars that get over 50 mpg–way back in the ’90s, as part of the government-sponsored “Super Car” program. All three companies had working prototypes, and all three decided to put their money into SUVs and pickup trucks instead. Good ol’ American short-term thinking…

    The Chicago Tribune did a lengthy series about this program, oh, whenever was the last time we debated fuel economy standards…

    And oh yeah, the “Super Car” thing so scared Toyota that they decided to develop their own hybrid car to counter the American effort. They called it the “Prius,” I think. Maybe you’ve heard of it?

  11. harrisonbergeron Oct. 1, 2010 at 6:06 pm

    It is past time to boot out these commies who hate america, and want the automobile to be a golf cart.

  12. Gil Oct. 1, 2010 at 6:24 pm

    How about 62 mpg cars for NEXT YEAR? Screw the oil lobbyists.

  13. BART Oct. 1, 2010 at 6:31 pm

    Yeah, and we still don’t have a 60% tax rate and you are still allowed to post things like this. But don’t worry more regulation and taxes are on the way.

  14. nrb Oct. 1, 2010 at 7:07 pm

    It’s possible right now. Go to Click the MPG,CO2 tab. The mileage figures, converted to US MPG are 51.2 city, 73.5 highway, 63.5 combined. Imperial gallons are larger, so figures have to be adjusted for our gallon size. This car is not some far off pipe dream out of Popular Science, like the nuclear reactor powered cars they said we’d drive today. This is reality, and it’s now. If you live overseas, you can go to the Ford dealer TODAY and drive away in a car that gets 73 MPG highway.

  15. T Buccelli Oct. 1, 2010 at 8:35 pm

    The problem is, many of these “family” cars seat 4 people. What are families with more than 2 children supposed to do – drive 2 cars?

  16. Gary Oct. 1, 2010 at 8:53 pm

    This is all more government regulation to get us all in line and make us all conform whether we like it or not. We are all to drive what political elites want us to. The very same people that do not know how to change their own windshield wipers think they know how better to design a car then the car makers do. And I thought the earth would be a scorching ball of fire by 2025. If it is so important, why not make these regulations take effect next month?

  17. Jerry Oct. 1, 2010 at 9:37 pm

    “Consumers could realize fuel savings of between $4,900 to $7,400″

    Unfortunately hybrids are about $6,000-$10,000 more expensive right now, not over the lifetime of the car. Consumers are not going to save money.

  18. mike h Oct. 1, 2010 at 10:35 pm

    we have had since 1970’s to get a handle on this issue – so maybe after 50 years of complaining they might make cars that dont use gas.

  19. kent Oct. 2, 2010 at 7:39 a.m.

    the good news – we’ll save lots of gas. the bad news – anybody who gets in a collision will be smashed to death like a pancake. What they can’t accomplish with forced abortions and death panels they will accomplish with vehicles. But OF COURSE our politicians will get their 8,000 pound limos and SUV’s like the old Soviet Poliburo. WAKE UP AMERICA!

  20. spec4 Oct. 2, 2010 at 8:32 a.m.

    More nannystate control over our lives. Why not make it 500 mpg? LaHood is a RINO joke.

  21. Bud Oct. 2, 2010 at 8:56 a.m.

    KPO’M: Thank you for proving my point about how Americans refuse to educate themselves about the facts before spouting their obnoxious vitriol. Same goes for a some of the other posters…

  22. Adam Oct. 2, 2010 at 9:47 a.m.

    We have regulation and nanny state control because too many of you are too stupid to make good decisions. The way most of you drive, you should be made to drive bumper cars.

  23. Scott Oct. 2, 2010 at 10:02 pm

    The US must set some goal to please the world, as our administration bows to the world. Although I believe we should find ways to make strides in that direction, its all a bunch of posturing. That’s why I say replace them all! If your congressman or senators don’t vote for the good for the citizens of this country then get them out… We have so much regulations and BS taxes it’s ridiculous, everything you own or buy must have a license or tax tied to it.