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NHTSA Requests 10-Yr Product Plan Info from Automakers for CAFE Planning

US CAFE standards for Cars and Light Trucks, with projections based on the goal articulated in the State of the Union Address. Click to enlarge.

The US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has requested product plan information through Model Year (MY) 2017 from automakers and truckmakers in anticipation of obtaining statutory authority to reform the passenger car Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) program and to set standards under that structure for MY 2010 – 2017 passenger cars.

The agency is also seeking this information in anticipation of setting standards for MY 2012-2017 light trucks.

The requested information, according to NHTSA, will help it to assess in greater detail the potential levels of future standards under a reformed structure and the impact of those standards on gasoline consumption, manufacturers, consumers, the economy, and motor vehicle safety.

In his State of the Union 2007 address in January, President Bush called for increasing and reforming corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) standards for passenger cars and further increasing the already reformed light truck standards to result in a 5% reduction in projected gasoline consumption. Meeting that goal would work out to CAFE increases of about 4% per year, beginning in Model Year 2010 for cars and Model Year 2012 for light trucks. (Earlier post.)

The US House Committee on Energy and Commerce held a hearing last week to begin reviewing the administrations’s plans for transportation.

A 13 Dec 2006 administration summary of fuel economy proposals obtained by the Detroit News calculated that meeting the 4% plan would cost the auto industry $100 billion—the bulk of that shouldered by the Detroit Big 3—between 2010 and 2017. The summary also showed that new standards would raise the price of light trucks by $1,900 and cars by $1,400 by 2017.

In 2006, the government implemented the first complete reform of the CAFE program for pickup trucks, sport utility vehicles and minivans since the program’s inception in 1979.

Reformed CAFE has two basic elements: a vehicle footprint-based determination of fuel economy levels and a per-manufacturer standard based on each manufacturer’s production-weighted harmonic average of the fuel economy targets for footprint value. In other words, by 2011, each automaker will have its own fuel economy standard based on its own product mix. (Earlier post.) A reformed CAFE for automobiles would likely take a similar approach.



$1900 & $1400 by 2017? Hmm...seems that most cars increase their prices by a larger margin over the same amount of time without even including new features.


After 2017, we'll be needing amphibious cars! How do you calculate the CAFE on whose?


Only if you live in New Orleans.

Harvey D.

By 2017 we should be buying second or third generation 200+ mpg Asian built PHEVs and/or BEVs.

The current CAFE planning will be completely outdated and meaningless.

Todays Big-3 may no longer be around or limited to dinosaur's production for the fast growing number of 300 and 400 pounders on USA/Canada roads.


Overweight people survive car crashes at a higher rate than normal weight and underweight people.

Severely overweight people survive car crashes at a much higher rate than severely underweight people.

So go get fat for your personal safety!


The thing is its ALOT more expensive to get EVERYTHING up by a certain amount then it is to get some of it up by a higher amount.

100 billion may sound like bull but reember the automakers spend several billion on EACH car they design. So its actauly a VERY realistic amount and yes it will in fact translate to higher per car costs. Where dd you expect the money to come from the underpants gnomes?

Some Jerk

Well, without a CAFE increase, those development costs will go into more horsepower and fancy self-parking gizmos.

Arguing against it on that basis is the same reasoning that says we will stifle drug development by capping drug prices, when big pharma spends more on advertising than R&D.

Jeff Fahringer

It's cheap and easy to make higher mpg cars by reducing size, frontal area, weight but the "reformed" CAFE is discouraging this by basing desired MPG on footprint size. Isn't that saying ok to get 15 mpg as long as you do it with a big enough car? Similarly I've heard that there is a high MPG(60mpg?)diesel vw that isn't allowed in the US because of the %of NO2 it puts out, and yet you can buy a diesel H1 Hummer that pollutes more, but is "OK" because of the % of it. I agree, by 2017 things will be different. If the speed limit was lower for cars that get under 30mpg, I bet that would raise mpg averages!

Rafael Seidl

If US-made cars were decent and got 40MPG, there would be no need for deep discounts at the dealerships because customers would actually want them. So the $100 billion cost is just auto industry scare tactics because the suits in charge are dinosaurs who still think that more weight and more power equals more profit.

German carmakers appear to have much the same blinkered mentality these days, but the truth is that if you make a car lighter and improve its aerodynamics, you can get the same speed and acceleration with a smaller engine that is usually operated at higher, more efficient load.

Lighter weight, of course, does not come cheap because we've become quite attached to all the little luxuries in the interior, such as excellent soundproofing, seats with a dozen electric motors in them, electric windows etc. Oh, and we rather like a lot of space.

Also, after decades of telling car makers and consumers that more steel is safer, the passive crash safety of lithe, nimble cars is sharply reduced. That's why active systems that help avoid accidents and/or minimize the risk of injury are the way to go.


They are just saying what it will cost. To be blunt if america REALY wanted to the car makers would be happy as clams to spend 10 trillion.. BUT ONLY if we REALY would pay the bill by buying the damn cars.

Car makers can only sell what people realy want not what they SAY they want.

tom deplume

Hasn't the competition from Toyota and Honda and their high mileage cars the reason Detroit is hurting now. The only thing that will save GM and Ford would be an agressive switch to plug-in series hybrids. We should be banning the sale of vehicles over 3500 lbs for 5 years and using that steel to rebuild or rail system.


You could massively increase cafe and gm and ford and crysler would be just fine. Yhe result would however be a distaster for the us gov and for senators.

1 alot of us plant closings.

2 Uaw goes splat.

3 Us dividion of said companies goes bankupt and defaults on a bazzilion bucks worth of retirement and other thngies. Us has to foot the bill.

4 We all become intkmately aqianyed to forien cars as even the big 3 are now firien companies.

Oh the y MIGHT build a few new factries in the us eventualy.... maybe.

See they are all multinationals and the best way to make small cars isnt in the us and it sure isnt woth current us factories using uaw workers.;/

So have fun convincing congress to slit thier own throats. Realy enjoy! Me I have a huge tub of popcorn and a soda as I just HAVE to enjoy this show:)

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