US Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta announced the expected new fuel economy standards for light trucks today. This represents the first complete reform of the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) program for pickup trucks, sport utility vehicles and minivans since the program’s inception in 1979.
The announced standards are only slightly tougher than those the department proposed in August 2005, increasing from the earlier proposal’s estimated average light truck level of 23.9 mpg to 24.0 mpg by 2011. The final rules also include the largest SUVs—those that weigh between 8,500 and 10,000 pounds—which the earlier proposed standards did not. (Earlier post.) The car standard remains at 27.5 mpg.
Secretary Mineta said that the new rules will save two billion more gallons of fuel than the earlier August 2005 proposal by including the largest SUVs and strengthening the final miles per gallon target.
In 2003, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) had increased light truck CAFE standards from 20.7 mpg applicable from MY 1996 through MY 2004, to 22.2 mpg applicable to MY 2007. At the time, it noted that further increases would be limited without reforming the entire program. This Reformed CAFE program is what the agency is introducing today.
The structure of Reformed CAFE for each model year has two basic elements:
A function that sets the target fuel economy levels for each value of vehicle footprint—the product of the average track width (the distance between the centerline of the tires) and wheelbase (basically, the distance between the centers of the axles); and
A Reformed CAFE standard based on each manufacturer’s production-weighted harmonic average of the fuel economy targets for footprint value.
By 2011, each automaker will have its own fuel economy standard based on its own product mix. This results in a situation in which GM, for example, will face a projected light-duty truck CAFE level of 23.2 mpg in 2011, while Ford faces a projected 23.9 mpg, Toyota 23.8 mpg, BMW 25.8 mpg, and so on.
While individual manufacturers may face different requirements for their overall CAFE levels depending on the distribution of footprint values for the models making up their respective product lines, each manufacturer is subject to identical fuel economy target for light truck models with the same footprint value.
|Unreformed CAFE Standards for Light Trucks|
|2007 (current)||22.2 mpg|
During a transition period of MYs 2008-2010, manufacturers may comply with CAFE standards established under the reformed structure (Reformed CAFE) or with standards established in the traditional way (Unreformed CAFE).
NHTSA set Reformed CAFE standards for those model years at levels intended to ensure that the industry-wide costs of those standards are roughly equivalent to the industry-wide costs of the Unreformed CAFE standards for those model years.
Under the proposal, the estimated average CAFE level for light trucks was 23.9 mpg; under the final rule, NHTSA estimates the average light truck CAFE level will be 24.0 mpg.
|Estimated Required Reformed CAFE Light Truck Fuel Economy Levels by Manufacturer|
Average Fuel Economy Standards for Light Trucks, Model Years 2008–2011 Final Rule