Thursday, April 1, 2010

35.5mpg by 2016

News today:

WASHINGTON — The federal government issued final rules establishing the first greenhouse gas emissions standards for automobiles and light trucks on Thursday, ending a 30-year battle between regulators and automakers.

The U.S. issued new rules that sets emissions and mileage standards for automobiles and light trucks. The new rules, jointly written by the Transportation Department and the Environmental Protection Agency, set emissions and mileage standards that will translate to a fleet average of 35.5 miles a gallon by 2016, nearly a 40 percent improvement over today’s fuel economy.

Awesome! This is the single most important and practical step that the US can take to dealing with tight oil supplies.


Mike "Pops" Black said...

But this will bankrupt the auto makers!


KLR said...

They seem to have edited the piece somewhat after you copy/pasted your excerpt; now it includes this bit of relevance/pessimism:

Most drivers will see lower mileage figures in actual driving.

Now, does this new announcement leap past the big caveat Dave Cohen covered in his article Obama Tackles the Liquid Fuels Problem ?

In analyzing the new fuel efficiency rules, I am sorry to tell you things go rapidly down hill from here. There are actually two standards, one from the DOT and one from the EPA. When you buy a car, the window sticker displays the EPA mileage number. This is the real world number, an approximation of the miles-per-gallon you will actually get. The CAFE number is higher than the EPA number, so it does not reflect your expected mileage. This is why President Obama was careful to point out that “the Department of Transportation and EPA will adopt the same rule.” If only things were that simple.

Senior editor John O’Dell of explains the double standard.

One of the few secrets that Washington has managed to keep is that the
fuel efficiency numbers politicians toss around when discussing the “corporate average fuel economy,” or CAFE, standard are not the same as the EPA fuel efficiency numbers that journalists and most everyone else use when discussing mileage and that consumers have been trained to look for when shopping for a new car…

While the new federal fuel economy program announced by President Obama this week sets 35.5 MPG as the federal fuel efficiency standard for 2016, it doesn’t necessarily mean there will be a lot of cars and trucks in the market seven years from now with window stickers that boast of 35.5-miles-per-gallon fuel economy.

In the real world - or as real as we can get - the cars and trucks on dealers’ lots are still going to be wearing EPA fuel economy labels. And it [currently] only requires an EPA rating of 29 miles per gallon for a passenger car to equal the CAFE rating of 39 MPG, while 23 MPG on the EPA scale equates to the truck segment’s CAFE standard of 30 miles a gallon…

Finally, there’s no requirement that consumers use the CAFE numbers when shopping for new vehicles. Except for the higher fuel costs of a less efficient vehicle - and the potential of reduced resale value - there’s no penalty for buying a 15 MPG truck or 24 MPG car just because the CAFE standard for each type of vehicle is higher.

Then there's this, from the NYT article:

Small-volume automakers like Porsche, Jaguar, Aston Martin and Lamborghini will not have to meet the new standards immediately but must buy credits from large-volume carmakers who exceed the targets. By 2017, all car companies will have to come into compliance.

Cap and Trade, sweet. This will push marginal volume luxury suppliers off the map; or force them to copy Tesla's approach, perhaps.

KLR said...

Vehicles that run exclusively on electricity, like the new Nissan Leaf and the forthcoming Chevrolet Volt for short trips, will be classed as zero-emissions vehicles, although there is a cap on the number of electric vehicles carmakers can claim credit for.

So much for a massive PHEV rollout. $52 billion is a lot to shell out under record deficits, after all. Some stories I've checked out say that the small volume producers will be given some slack in meeting the new goals. Also some state that the actual goal is 34 MPH, + 1.5 from improved A/C.

Mike Aucott said...

The decision that full battery electric vehicles will be considered "zero" emission is a problem. It's a strong incentive for automakers to produce more full electric vehicles. Sure, electric motors are more efficient than IC engines. But there are inefficiencies with electric vehicles, including battery charging, and overall they're not that much more efficient than gasoline vehicles and may be less efficient than diesels in terms of carbon emissions per mile. This is because much of the U.S.'s electricity is produced by coal combustion. Too many electric vehicles could guarantee that coal-burning electricity production continues long into the future, which would be a disaster from a carbon standpoint. Electic vehicles only significantly reduce carbon emissions if the U.S. dramatically expands renewable and nuclear power. And short-circuiting the need for a lot of motor vehicle travel by developing telecommuting that works on a large scale would also be useful. For more discussion and details see:

porsena said...

There's a lot more to this than meets the eye. The "fleet average of 35.5 mpg" refers to the calculation of Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE), which has to be done separately by each manufacturer, separately again for vehicles assembled in and outside NAFTA plants.

The CAFE calculations are a sales-weighted harmonic mean fuel economy across each manufacturer's "domestic" and "imported" fleet. As if that weren't difficult enough to understand, the figure of 35.5 mpg is not a standard but an estimate based on government models of the different sizes and kinds of vehicles that will be sold and the target each category is assigned. The targets vary depending on "vehicle footprint" which is calculated as the product of vehicle wheelbase and track (i.e., the area enclosed by the four wheels), and whether the vehicle involved is a car or light truck. There's a summary here.

The 2016 targets for cars range from 41.1 mpg for something the size of a Honda Fit to 32.6 mpg for a car like the Chrysler 300. The truck standards go from 32.9 mpg for a small SUV like the Ford Escape to 24.7 mpg for something the size of a Chevy Silverado. Averaging these all together in the government’s projected sales model gives us the reported 35.5 mpg, which also includes a 1.4 mpg credit for more efficient air conditioners (don’t ask).

Compliance is based on dynamometer tests administered by EPA and manufacturer-reported annual sales data. Failure to comply makes a manufacturer liable to a fine, the size of which is proportional to that manufacturer's annual fleet sales and the departure from his size-adjusted target.

Other little adjustments are made when determining targets and compliance, so it's more complicated than I've suggested, but the new targets are an encouraging step towards reducing liquid fuel use and GHG emissions. The vehicles covered by the new rule are responsible for almost 60% of all US transportation-related GHG emissions.

Per said...

My next car will take me 60-70 mpg. Ford Focus 1,6TDCi is at 62 mpg now. With my european eyes 35.5 mpg is nothing, my 10 year old car manages that...

Manolo said...

An interesting one from Denninger:

"...we should also look toward realistic vehicles for personal transportation. Here's a fact: The best "bang for the buck" out there with today's technology is hybrid diesel/electric, with a diesel engine just big enough to cruise on the highway and charge the batteries. Add plug charging capability and you've got something worthwhile, and in combined-cycle driving it would reach 100mpg.

Now work on engine technology that is truly "flex fuel" but runs on the diesel cycle. That is, you can put any mixture of gasoline, diesel or kerosene-like fuel (e.g. Jet-A or JP5) in the tank and it will run just fine. Why the diesel cycle? Because it is more efficient due to the lack of throttling losses. Set up the vehicle so you can "tell" the vehicle that you're parked outdoors and thus it is permitted to top off the battery pack while you're in the shopping center (by running the engine), then automatically shut down when charged.

Pure electric vehicles are, with today's technology, a fantasy for most users. The issue is energy density - there is no better density option than liquid hydrocarbons, whether people like it or not. Batteries can provide short-term small-size energy storage but there is no free lunch there - the conversion between electrical energy and chemical isn't that great in terms of efficiency, and density is just so-so. Further, charge acceptance rates (how fast you can charge the battery) precludes the "pull into a fueling station and fill up the batteries in 5 or 10 minutes", as we currently do with gasoline or diesel.

So the best model is one where the vehicle carries a battery pack that is used for steady-state operation around town along with peak acceleration. The rest of the time you run on an internal-combustion engine that is sized to operate in its most-efficient operating envelope, typically 75% or so of rated output, for highway cruising.

This is a remarkably small engine - the average car on the road at 55mph requires only 15 horsepower or thereabouts, with most of it being required to overcome air resistance."

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