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Could the proposed standards lead to automakers vacating smaller platforms?

The proposed CAFE standards that have been looming all year will force some major changes on the automotive market. The government says that the much more stringent fuel economy standard will save consumers at the pump and reduce the national need for foreign oil. The auto industry has said that the cost of meeting the standard would increase the cost of new vehicles and could result in lost jobs.
According to a new study published by the University of Michigan, the CAFE standards will make cars larger, not smaller. The study indicates that there is a loophole in the economy standards that the automakers could exploit.
"For just about all the scenarios, the car got bigger,” said Steven Skerlos, an associate professor at U-M Department of Mechanical Engineering. “What you can model in a computer is different from reality, but based on this research we expect it to happen."
The loophole is that the formula used for determining miles per gallons required under the new standard uses the vehicles footprint (multiplying the wheelbase by track width). This was done to give larger vehicles less stringent economy standards to follow. In a nutshell, the formula favors larger vehicles and those vehicles may be less costly since they wouldn't have to use as much technology for fuel gains. 
Therefore, automakers may design new vehicles to be larger in an effort to target the lower economy standards. The study also claims that not only would the automakers considering redesigning a vehicle to go for the lower economy limits undermine the CAFE standard goals, but it would also create more pollution
"This study illustrates that there may be a substantial financial incentive to produce larger vehicles, and that it can undermine the goals of the policy," said Kate Whitefoot, who conducted the research as a U-M design science doctoral student and is now a senior program officer at the National Academy of Engineering.

Source: AutoNews

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RE: Another government regulation backfiring?
By Solandri on 12/14/2011 5:31:50 PM , Rating: 2
Companies faced with new regulations will find any way to get around them not only defeating the regulation but defeating the spirit of why the regulation was implemented.

Companies and consumers faced with new regulations found a way to get around them, defeating the purpose and spirit of the regulation. The sellers can't do anything without the buyers.

CAFE was based on the misguided belief that "if you build it, they will come." That consumers wanted smaller, more fuel-efficient cars, but the evil car companies simply weren't building them. Instead, it turns out that consumers predominantly want bigger, gas guzzling cars, and automakers were just giving them what they wanted. So automakers figured out a way to skirt around CAFE to continue to give consumers what they wanted, government regulations be damned.

RE: Another government regulation backfiring?
By sigmatau on 12/14/2011 8:35:13 PM , Rating: 1
Um no. The consumer is usualy out of the loop of any regulations not directly imposed onto them.

CAFE was made to decrease our increasing use of oil, not what you said at all.

By Flunk on 12/15/2011 9:21:42 AM , Rating: 2
I want a smaller more fuel efficient car, so someone must. If you want to drive a huge gas-guzzling wreck that's up to you but it's hard to argue that CAFE regulations haven't resulted in more fuel efficient cars and even huge SUVs. These new regulations seem too strict to actually achieve but CAFE regulations have achieved what they have set out to do in the past.

"So, I think the same thing of the music industry. They can't say that they're losing money, you know what I'm saying. They just probably don't have the same surplus that they had." -- Wu-Tang Clan founder RZA

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