CAFE standards could be lowered to reflect consumer habits

CAFE standards could be lowered to reflect consumer habits

Federal fuel economy standards could be lowered next year if the midterm review finds that automakers wonêt be able to meet the 2025 targets because consumers arenêt buying fuel-efficient vehicles, federal officials said recently.

As gas prices have fallen steadily in recent months (see article below), buyers have renewed their love affair with light trucks and SUVs, particularly crossovers. But a recent study reported in the WANADA Bulletin found that fuel economy is still important to consumers buying a new car. Consumer behavior is important to the CAFE program because an automakerês ability to meet its target numbers is based on the vehicles it sells rather than the ones it makes.

Kevin Green, head of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration CAFE Program Office, told the Detroit News a midterm assessment would surely include –an updated assessment of the market.” The 54.5 mpg targets are –not solid ground” because each automaker will have a different figure based on its fuel economy credits, mix of cars and light trucks, and other factors, Green added.

Chris Nevers of the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers told the News that just 3.1 percent of MY 2013 vehicles met the 2025 fuel economy standards.

The midterm review includes a technical assessment for public comment by June 2016 and a final determination by EPA by April 2018 on whether to adjust the figures.

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