The Obama White House has proposed that California’s car and light truck MPG & CO2 standards and year 2016 start date be adopted nationally which means tighter standards and sooner than the federal targets that have been in place for year 2020. . This will be executed with a new approach to CAFÉ (corporate average fuel economy) compliance now in the planning stage managed jointly by an EPA/ NHTSA team Over 30% MPG gain and related CO2 reduction is sought . .
The current CAFÉ system results, for instance, in the need for makers of average larger vehicles to produce enough smaller models in order to comply with the current
: corporate” MPG average. The new system now being planned instead sets MPG compliance targets based on vehicle sizes. The intention is to have all sizes of vehicles achieve about the same degree of MPG gain by 2016.This recognizes market demand for all sizes of vehicles, hence, vehicle makers will have more freedom to concentrate on whatever market segments they believe they can best serve. .
With the help of industry sources and a document issued jointly by EPA and NHTSA
titled, “Notice of Upcoming Joint Rulemaking to Establish Vehicle GHG(greenhouse gas emissions) and CAFÉ standards”, the nature of the new compliance system is outlined as follows.
Fist is the fundamental that the EPA/NHTSA team plan to define vehicle size by “foot print” which is the ground surface defined by wheel base on one side and wheel track (distance between wheels) on the other side. This is said to represent a good but not perfect overall indicator of vehicle energy use comparison and basis for setting MPG & CO2 goals.
The results of a vehicle maker’s overall MPG & CO2 performance would be based on a vehicle “foot print” multiplied by annual collective sales of its vehicles. This data would then determine vehicle maker credits or debits at year ends. It is proposed that credits could be applied to offset past shortfalls or be used against future expected vehicle efficiency shortfalls perhaps, for instance, from model holdovers into the next or following years.
Adding complexity to the issue are proposals by the team that would also permit makers to buy or sell credits. An added potential proposal calls for “super credits” perhaps for electric or plug hybrid vehicles. Other credits may be earned for solar panels for hybrids, adaptive cruise control and active aerodynamics, among other things.
Considering that success of the program has much to do with availability of affordable high efficiency vehicles, it will be interesting to see the degree to which makers of vehicles for the high volume markets will be able to meet their assigned targets with systems such as twin clutch automatic transmissions, stop start, dilute high compression, cooled EGR, engine downsizing, variable valves and new materials, for examples, yet stay within affordable pricing.. One team member estimates the added cost for compliance in 2016 for compact cars is in the range from $714 to $1459, average $1087.
The success of more costly hybrids when put up against optimized conventional technology is unclear. Similarly unclear is whether the light truck group will make the cut with new technology gasoline engines or move to diesels. Diesels, however, may be faced with another expensive round of emissions controls to meet bin #2 levels which some engine researchers believe is not far away. .
It is believed that the biggest push for overall vehicle fleet MPG gains will be higher fuel prices; hence, greater sales of the smaller vehicles as happened in the $4/gal period. Additional push for higher fuel prices may also come from the Obama administrations priority drive for reduced use of petroleum replaced with alternative fuels for which large investments will be needed both short and long term.