Earlier this week, new regulations regarding Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards for 2025 were passed after much wrangling between politicians and automakers.
These new standards, which have been mandated by the Department of Transportation (DOT) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will require automaker’s vehicles (both cars and light trucks) to achieve an average 54.4 miles per gallon by 2025.
At first glance, the mandate from the EPA and DOT seems like a rather large target to hit in a particularly short amount of time. Even the most fuel efficient gasoline vehicles struggle to approach that figure, with only a few hybrid-electric vehicles coming close. Needless the so say, the idea that larger trucks and sedans will be able to match the government’s mandate is something we’re equally skeptical and excited to see. In all likelihood automakers are going to have to put in a lot of effort and resources in order to achieving this.
Regardless of what this might mean for the likes of Ford, Volkswagen, Toyota, Honda, GM, their designers, and their engineers. What do the new CAFE standards spell for you? As it turns out, quite a lot.
In order to illustrate how the new standards will affect the average driver, we have laid out four ways in which increasing CAFE standards will likely affect the most important person. You.
Pay less at the pump
As you might have already guessed, the first major benefit to increased CAFE standards will be a reduction in how much you pay at the pump. While it’s a harsh reality that gas prices continue to climb, drop, and climb back up again, (and let’s be honest: that trend is unlikely to stop anytime soon) the tradeoff is that with greater fuel economy comes a lower premium paid at the pump. More miles mean fewer trips to the gas station.
Is it 2025 yet? Well, no, but that doesn’t mean we won’t be reaping the benefits from now until then. The year 2025 might be 13 years away, but as automakers gradually ramp up fuel economy in the coming years, expect those savings to start piling up as well. But won’t car prices increase as well? That is true, though the cost of new cars is expected to rise by roughly $1,800 to meet the new demands, it is estimated that drivers could save $8,000 in gasoline costs during the life of their vehicle.
Although somewhat of a no-brainer, in order for cars to reach greater levels of fuel economy, they are simply going to have to get better and more efficient. Some of these improvements, like the recent trend to use smaller engine displacements with turbocharging, have helped with fuel economy, but that won’t be the end of it.
If automakers are truly going to reach the standard set forth by the EPA and DOT then they are going to have to improve aspects of future models across the board. That means we’ll start seeing stronger, more lightweight materials, improved aerodynamics, and even newer, more exciting technology creeping in.
With all the research and development it will take to steadily increase the average fuel economy for each automaker, it’s safe to reason that more jobs will be created to accommodate new parts and technology into the existing automotive framework. How many new jobs? Recent research from the National Resource Defense Council estimates as many as 570,000 new jobs could be created as a result of the new government regulations.
A wealth of options
The automotive market is both vast and varied. There are cars sitting on a lot right now that will cater to, and fit, your lifestyle needs with little trouble. However, for those hunting for a truly fuel-efficient vehicle, one that encroaches on the impending CAFE standards of the future, that choice remains rather limited. You can purchase a gasoline hybrid, like a Toyota Prius, a plug-in hybrid such as the Chevrolet Volt, or forgo gasoline altogether with a battery-electric car like a Nissan Leaf.
But what if your automotive needs go beyond a small-to-midsized hatchback? Currently, there are many segments that lack diesel, hybrid, or all-electric drivetrains. With the eventual increase in CAFE standards, don’t be surprised to see an all-electric pickup or even a hybrid drivetrain make its way into an FRS-styled sportscar. Bottom line, there will be a lot more to choose from, and that’s going to be great.