The US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has set the model year 2011 CAFE standards, which it estimates will raise the industry-wide combined light-duty vehicle fuel economy average to 27.3 mpg, save 887 million gallons of fuel over the lifetime of the MY 2011 cars and light trucks, and reduce CO2 emissions by 8.3 million metric tons during that period.
In one of his first official acts in office in January, President Obama requested a final order for federal fuel economy standards for only model year 2011, with further consideration and analysis to occur prior to issuing rules for subsequent model years. The MY 2011 standards issued by NHTSA in response to that request rely heavily on the analysis and proposals in a final draft rule prepared, but not released, last fall. (Earlier post.)
|Estimated Industry-wide MY 2011 CAFE|
|Combined cars and light trucks||27.3||326|
In developing standards for MY 2012 and beyond, NHTSA said that it will proceed after collecting new information, conducting a careful review of technical and economic inputs and assumptions, and standard setting methodology, and completing new analyses. Time limitations precluded that approach for MY 2011, however; the standards must be in place 18 months prior to the beginning of the affected model year. Since MY 2011 kick in for CAFE purposes on 1 October 2010, the rule needed to be in place by the end of 31 March 2009.
In looking ahead to the next CAFE rulemaking, the agency emphasizes that while the methodologies, economic and technological inputs and decision making criteria used in this rule were well-supported choices for the purposes of the MY 2011 rulemaking, they were not the only reasonable choices that the agency could have made for that purpose. Many of the key aspects of this rulemaking reflect decisions among several reasonable alternatives. The choices made in the context of last fall may or may not be the choices that will be made in the context of the follow-on rulemaking.—Average Fuel Economy Standards Passenger Cars and Light Trucks Model Year 2011
The final rule for MY 2011 establishes footprint-based fuel economy standards for passenger cars and light trucks. Each vehicle manufacturer’s required level of CAFE is based on target levels of average fuel economy set for vehicles of different sizes (as defined by footprint) and on the distribution of that manufacturer’s vehicles among those sizes.
The curves defining the performance target at each footprint reflect the technological and economic capabilities of the industry. The target for each footprint is the same for all manufacturers, regardless of differences in their overall fleet mix. Compliance will be determined by comparing a manufacturer’s harmonically averaged fleet fuel economy levels in a model year with a required fuel economy level calculated using the manufacturer’s actual production levels and the targets for each footprint of the vehicles that it produces.
The agency analyzed seven regulatory alternatives, one of which maximizes net benefits within the limits of available information and is known as the “optimized standards.” This alternative, which corresponds to the Optimized Mid-2 scenario described in the final environmental impact statement (FEIS) on the new CAFE released by NHTSA in October 2008 (earlier post), is the one the agency is adopting for MY 2011 rules.
NHTSA cannot set out the exact level of CAFE that each manufacturer will be required to meet for MY 2011 under the passenger car or light truck standards because the levels will depend on information that will not be available until the end of that model year, i.e., the final actual production figures for that year. The agency estimates, however, that the rule will result in the combined industry-wide average of 27.3 mpg US, a 2.0 mpg increase above MY 2010, corresponding to 326 gCO2/mi.
NHTSA estimates that the figures for MY 2011 passenger cars will be 30.2 mpg US (294 gCO2/mi); MY 2011 light trucks will reach 24.1 mpg (369 g/mi). In addition, per EISA, each manufacturer’s domestic passenger fleet is required in MY 2011 to achieve 27.5 mpg or 92% of the CAFE of the industry-wide combined fleet of domestic and non-domestic passenger cars for that model year, whichever is higher. This requirement results in the following alternative minimum standard (not attribute-based) for domestic passenger cars of 27.8 mpg (320 gCO2/mi).
In response to the issuance of the final rule for MY 2011 CAFE, Dave McCurdy, President and CEO, Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, said
The finalization of the federal Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards for MY 2011 is an important first step. It is now important that the Department of Transportation provide automakers with the certainty and consistency needed by setting standards for MY 2012 and beyond.
We are hopeful that the Obama Administration can find ways to bridge state and federal concerns, and move all stakeholders towards an aggressive, national, fuel economy/greenhouse gas emissions program administered by the federal government.
Just prior to the release of the MY 2011 CAFE rule, the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers had again called for a single approach for fuel economy and greenhouse gas standards. The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers is an association of 11 vehicle manufacturers including BMW Group, Chrysler LLC, Ford Motor Company, General Motors, Jaguar Land Rover, Mazda, Mercedes-Benz USA, Mitsubishi Motors, Porsche, Toyota and Volkswagen.
In addition to the new CAFE rules from NHTSA, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will soon decide whether to grant California, and the other adopting states, the long-awaited waiver to implement its light-duty vehicle greenhouse gas emission standards. In addition, the administration may soon begin the process of forming a regulation on GHGs through an EPA endangerment finding. (Earlier post.)
Automakers said the adoption of an Obama national program administered by the federal government is the most effective way to bridge the concerns of all stakeholders. In her testimony before the EPA on 5 March regarding the reconsideration of the California waiver, Julie Becker, Vice President, Environmental Affairs, for the Alliance said:
...the time has come to bridge state and federal concerns and move all stakeholders forward. The Alliance believes that any effective, efficient program to address climate change must be built on a single, strong national framework administered by the federal government. This framework should acknowledge the specific product and sales structure of individual manufacturers’ fleets, and be designed in a way that challenges all manufacturers fairly by including appropriate implementation and compliance flexibilities without affecting overall greenhouse gas reductions.
To this end, we encourage EPA to work closely with all stakeholders, including NHTSA and CARB, to develop a single national program for vehicle fuel economy and greenhouse gas emissions administered by the federal government.