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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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Cafe standards
By Isidore on 12/14/2011 6:52:18 PM , Rating: 1
It's really very simple: Just put fuel prices up to European levels and watch the cars get small and MUCH more fuel efficient. You can buy SUVs in Europe but they're all diesels, as are all the pick ups. From an American perspective it's also a way to roll back the far eastern dominance - I don't see any good Japanese or Korean diesels, much less Chinese ones. Higher fuel taxes would also solve the government deficit and create a more level playing field for mass transit. I bet I'm down to -5 before you can say 'fuel injection'.

RE: Cafe standards
By Seagrave on 12/15/2011 1:18:43 AM , Rating: 2
yes tax fuel more, so all other aspects of american life cost more, food and services, the cost of doing business. believe this guy that a fuel tax will fix our governments deficit and spending habits... yea right.

fuel prices affect everything and not equally. my company is hugely affected by fuel prices. a 25 cent increase equates to around 2 million dollars a day. then imagine the price of air travel, or the affect on our food pricing. diesel fuel is taxed more here in america because its has higher demand, sadly from commercial logistics.

european countries are much smaller geographically, tend to have good public transportation, and dont force large portions of workers to commute 30-45 minutes each day for work in their own vehicles. dont model the united states after another country with huge geological differences.

european pricing would cause huge economic burden on business as well as private citizens, increase unemployment, and drive more americans into poverty.

oh then discuss improving transportation in america, like small or large scale rail, it becomes liberal spending, or huge tax burdens for citizens. not foresight, future proofing, and reduced costs in the long run. we have places to go, room to improve, but our government keeps us from moving forward.

no good japanese diesels? what about the toyota hilux diesel truck. create a demand the foreign makers will respond faster then american companies can.

RE: Cafe standards
By Isidore on 12/15/2011 3:37:11 PM , Rating: 2
While the US does have a much lower population density which alters the numbers, in terms of size and transport distances, Europe is of equivalent size to the US. The single market has routes from Ireland to Hungary and from the north of Norway to southern Italy/ Greece. Of course a lot of bulk stuff goes by rail or ship including all the big rivers. Aviation fuel is not taxed on the same basis but that may change. Americans seem to have this phobia of higher fuel prices as if the world would end if they had to pay more. Canada, which is many ways a more extreme version of the US in having an even lower population density, has much higher prices and it hasn't ground to a halt. I am not saying that fuel prices should double overnight. But the idea that they should stay artificially low is storing up trouble for the future. Many people in Europe commute by car for the times you quote but about half the cars in Europe are diesel- cars, not trucks like the Toyota you mention. Why can't the US manufacturers respond quickly? Chrysler have an excellent source of good small diesels from Fiat, Ford from their European plants, and GM well who knows what they will do. I don't like high fuel costs but American vehicle design has become such a dinosaur, out on an evolutionary limb and bound to fail. This mind set needs to change. As for the transport of goods, the US is the only major market with such a low proportion of its trade going by sea in the form of feeder ships up the coasts. the cost of sea transport is much much lower than trucking.

RE: Cafe standards
By lightfoot on 12/15/2011 4:49:48 PM , Rating: 2
my company is hugely affected by fuel prices. a 25 cent increase equates to around 2 million dollars a day.

So you're saying that your company burns 8 million gallons of fuel per day? That is two thirds of what the Department of Defense spends. That is outragous by any measure.

Heaven forbid that you have to pass that extra expense onto your customers or *gasp* increase the efficiency of your fleet.

Your company seems to be a prime target for fuel useage reductions.

Give me one reason why your company specifically should not reduce fuel consumption, but everyone else should.

Don't get me wrong, I am not in favor of a fuel tax. But it's a MUCH better solution to fuel consumption than the existing CAFE regulations.

RE: Cafe standards
By lagomorpha on 12/15/2011 2:24:48 AM , Rating: 2
I think at least part of the idea is to create an incentive to produce more efficient new cars without creating an enormous financial burdon on lower working class people that are currently stuck with used gas sucking SUVs that got bought up in the 90s. Is it a good system? Not really but coming out as wanting higher gas taxes is political suicide right now.

RE: Cafe standards
By dubyadubya on 12/19/2011 3:20:42 PM , Rating: 2
Raising the price of fuel is a very bad idea. Doing so would raise the price of all products and services we buy. Reason being the United States is too vast. Everything we buy has transportation costs. Europe will nearly fit in the state of Texas so their transportation costs are much lower. Just look how much prices went up in the US as a result of the increased cost of fuel over the last few years. Raising the price of fuel will cost the American public way more than the added cost of the fuel. Add to this the state of the economy if anything we should be doing everything possible to lower the cost of fuel not raise it.


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