Likely behind countless sleepless nights among the world’s automotive engineers, the Obama administration’s mandate for improved fuel efficiency was expected to take effect yesterday, but the gun remains unfired.
It isn’t clear why the rule hasn’t been issued yet, but at least for now there seems to be a little extra time on the table for automakers to meet the 54.5 mpg CAFE numbers expected by 2025.
“The rule is still undergoing interagency review and we expect that process to be completed soon,” Lynda Tran, a spokeswoman for the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, said Tuesday in an e-mail with Automotive News.
When it does take effect, NHTSA says the rule will nearly double the fuel efficiency of cars on the road today. That doesn’t necessarily mean what you might think it does, though.
CAFE stands for corporate average fuel economy. In other words, the average fuel economy will have to be a lot higher than it is today across an automaker’s entire lineup. While it isn’t guaranteed, there’s a good chance companies will turn to stopgap cars into play to help boost those figures early in the game.
It might seem like the government is trying to play God with the automotive world, and to a certain extent that is the case, but it isn’t as extreme as the on-paper numbers sound.
Expect to see hybrids playing an even larger role in the coming years. Battery technology is only getting better, meaning cars that rely on electric assistance will only become cheaper and more efficient. Clean diesels will also play a bigger role, with cars like the Mercedes-Benz GLK 250 BlueTec debuting in the U.S. market this year.
This doesn’t spell doom for performance driving either. Gas isn’t getting any cheaper and neither are cars, but if last weekend’s Pikes Peak Hill Climb proved anything, it was that EVs can pack a serious punch.
The CAFE mandate delay isn’t likely to last very long, but at least that doesn’t have to be a bad thing.
[Source: Automotive News]