New Cars Surpass CAFE Efficiency Standards

The automotive industry has outdone itself for the second year, according to a new EPA report. They beat greenhouse gas emissions standards in 2013, with vehicles averaging 1.4 more miles per gallon than required.

EPA regulations have become increasingly tighter each year on cars and small trucks to meet Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards to reach a goal of 54.5 mpg by 2025. Out of the thirteen biggest automakers, nine surpassed CAFE targets. Models from 2013 have an average 24.1 mpg, a 0.5 mpg rise over the previous year.

According to the EPA, CAFE standards, which apply to vehicles made between 2012 and 2025, are expected to cut six billion metric tons of greenhouse gases, save 12 billion barrels of oil and save drivers over $8,000 in fuel costs.

Janet McCabe, acting assistant administrator of the EPA, added, “I think everybody is familiar with the fact that gas prices go up and down over time. The best way for people to make sure that they’re going to be able to weather high gas prices or low is to invest in a fuel efficient vehicle.”

2013 model cars emit nine percent less carbon pollution than 2010 models, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists. Dean Anair, research and deputy director of the Clean Vehicles Program at UCS, said, “The EPA report shows that tailpipe emissions are falling, improvements in air conditioning technology are happening even faster than expected, and on average, vehicles are a full year ahead of where they need to be to keep up with the standards.”

Although fuel efficiency standards are getting more strict, consumer interest in fuel efficiency waxes and wanes with the overall state of the economy. During the downturn and high gas prices, consumers wanted more efficient cars; the plunge in gas prices, however, has rekindled interest in the big “gas guzzling trucks and SUVs” since early 2014.

Simultaneously, electric vehicle development continues to increase as automakers like Tesla and GM make them easier to afford. In Nevada, Tesla’s new lithium-ion “gigafactory” is being built. There, batteries will be manufactured for the new Model III EV, which will be available in 2017. The EV has an expected sticker price of around $35,000.

This coming January, the new $30,000 Chevy Bolt will be launched to compete with the Tesla Model III. The ranges of both are around 200 miles-per charge.  EV battery prices are expected to continue to fall, and if the trend continues, EVs will be able to compete with their gasoline powered competitors even sooner than expected.

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