EV lovers may consider this good news or bad, but the US auto industry is making better progress than expected toward meeting the EPA’s long-term fuel-economy standards, as Ward’s Auto reported this week (via Green Car Reports).
“Innovations are coming at us faster than originally anticipated,” says Michael Olechiw, Director of the EPA’s Light-Duty Vehicle Center. “Manufacturers are not only bringing technology in faster than we thought they would, they are also bringing different technology to fruition than what we anticipated.”
The EPA’s Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standard requires each automaker’s sales-weighted fleet to achieve average fuel economy of 35.5 mpg by 2016, and 54.5 mpg by 2025. As of this June, the average figure was 25.5 mpg, according to the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI).
“CAFE performance has exceeded projections the past two years,” says UMTRI Project Manager Brandon Schoettle. “The average new-vehicle fuel economy is near a record high.”
The steadily improving mileage figures are due to vehicle lightweighting and new technologies such as start-stop systems, continuously variable transmissions, automatic transmissions with up to nine gears, direct injection, and the increased use of diesel engines.
Electrification is also playing a role, but as Green Car Reports notes, the cost of battery packs, electric motors, and power electronics will need to be reduced further before it becomes truly competitive with these other technologies.
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The EPA will issue a mid-term report in November 2017 and Voelcker predicts that, if the past is any guide, the automakers “will protest that their industry cannot possibly meet the regulations at a reasonable cost, and that the increased price of vehicles will hurt sales, lower production, and destroy jobs.”