Issue: Apr 2008



by Bob Brooks

The 35 MPG standard for both cars and light trucks beginning in 2020 will not be imposed equally on all vehicle makers. The new requirement spelled out in the 2007 Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA) calls for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to employ new standards for each vehicle maker based on their respective product mix and technologies. The target is 35 MPG or better as the total industry average.....
Spokespersons for both the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers and NHTSA said the exact details of the rating system for cars has not been finalized but will likely include such factors as footprint (vehicle ground surface area defined by wheel track and wheelbase), weight, horsepower and possibly other factors. This is referred to as an” attribute” system plus FTP tests now in place for future light trucks.
 Alliance Director of Communications, Charles Territo said the new system will avoid the historic CAFÉ consequence that a vehicle maker heavily invested in larger vehicles must produce many smaller vehicles simply to meet the traditional corporate average fuel economy (CAFÉ). He said the new system meets the industry wide 35 MPG objectives of EISA with needed flexibility for individual makers... NHTSA spokesperson, Elly Martin confirmed this view and offered no indication of when system details would be made known. .
Some vehicle makers will be assigned MPG averages above 35 MPG and others below 35 MPG. In this context it must be realized that the 35 MPG level is based on the traditional FTP (Federal Test Procedure), which has been the basis for CAFÉ ratings since day one. 35 MPG per FTP translates into about 26-27 MPG per the EPA adjusted data for advertised MPG values that appear on vehicle window stickers and in advertising... The jump from today’s EPA`adjusted MPG data to the 2020 FTP based requirement will appear to be greater than the actual case. For instance, today’s Toyota Corolla based only on FTP data, now achieves MPG values close to the 2020 requirement .The current vs. 2020 Corolla comparison may be quite large, however, if NHTSA assigns to Toyota a standard substantially higher than 35 MPG
The EISA legislation calls for NHTSA to set individual vehicle maker MPG limits for 5 model years going forward from the start date subject to revision with 18 month lead times.
Among specific requirements in the new legislation is 1.2 MPG credit for flex fuel vehicles through 2014. This drops to 0.2 MPG until 2020 after which no credit is given. Unknown is how plug hybrid and all electric vehicles will impact NHTSA assigned vehicle maker equivalent MPG limits.         
An interesting item in the EISA legislation is proposed loans of $25 billion for construction of facilities to manufacture advanced batteries made in the U.S.and for plug hybrid and electric car development.... Other financial support is indicated for biofuels among which is suggested consideration of dedicated pipelines to distribute ethanol within the U.S. Planning, however, is advancing for production of butanol fuel, an alternative to ethanol, which contains more energy than ethanol, can be used in higher concentrations with gasoline, and does not need dedicated pipelines or retail pumps. .
Also, the EISA legislation refers to the need to support hybrids and diesels but does not mention forthcoming downsized high efficiency gasoline engines reported to have diesel competitive efficiency. .
Taken together, industry analysts can be expected to closely monitor NHTSA variable MPG limits for each vehicle maker serving the highly competitive U.S. auto market. 
Bob Brooks, member: SAE, AUTO TECH NEWS,,

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