NHTSA Study Calls For 4.5-Percent Annual CAFE Increases

By KBB.com Editors on October 15, 2008 2:01 PM

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has released its final draft of an environmental impact study regarding changes to Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) requirements for model years 2011-2015, the period when new and far more stringent mileage requirements will be in enacted. In order to meet goals set forth in the 2007 Energy Independence and Security Act of increasing car and truck mileage numbers by 40 percent and attaining a minimum 35-mpg overall fleet average by 2020, NHTSA's recommendations center on mandating a 4.5 percent annual increase in individual manufacturer CAFE standards. The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers (AAM), an organization that represents a dozen automakers worldwide, remains fully committed to making the 35-mpg/2020 goal but claims that that the annual changes in mileage requirements that NHTSA is proposing will at best be extremely costly and at worst be near impossible to accomplish without major increases in vehicle prices. Environmental troops, on the other hand, feel that the new NHTSA regulations still don't go far enough towards actually moving us on to de facto energy independence.

According to NHTSA figures, achieving fuel economy improvements of the magnitude envisioned -- which would ultimately take the CAFE average to 39.4 mpg by the 2020 window -- would require an additional $47 billion worth of investment on the part of manufacturers. In return, NHTSA contends it would decrease gasoline usage in the U.S. by 19.5 billion gallons from 2011-2020 and help lower carbon dioxide emissions by 185 million metric tons through 2100, statistics the AAM contends are seriously exaggerated. The proposed changes are still subject to a 30-day comment period before going into effect.