Real-World CAFE Performance Exceeds NHTSA Targets

Craig Cole
by Craig Cole

Corporate Average Fuel Economy, CAFE for short, is a series of regulations designed to improve the efficiency of vehicles sold in the United States. Automakers will be required to average 54.5 miles per gallon by the year 2025.

That may sound like an impossibly tall order but manufacturers have been slowly improving their efficiency each year. But in spite of this continued advancement NHTSA projects there will be a shortfall.

The government agency anticipates real-world performance will lag what’s supposed to be achieved. They estimate automakers will offset shortfalls with alternative credits. Think of these as extra points earned by selling electric vehicles, cars and trucks that can run on compressed natural gas or for pushing various hybrid technologies.

SEE ALSO: EPA vs. CAFE, Two Sides of the Fuel-Economy Numbers

Still, NHTSA may not be right about this potential deficit, which they indicate could be more than eight miles per gallon by 2025. The projected achieved score is estimated at 46.2 MPG while the mandate is, again, 54.5.

A study penned by Michael Sivak and Brandon Schoettle of UMTRI, that is the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute and indicates that automakers have actually been outpacing the CAFE regulations for the past three years. They’ve been beating them without resorting to alternative credits.

UMTRI also indicates that CAFE performance has consistently increased since 2008. They estimate that if this trend continues automakers will exceed government fuel-economy requirements. But still, 54.5 is a huge number and it’s unclear how mass-market, full-line manufacturers will meet this ambitious target.

[Source: UMTRI]

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Craig Cole
Craig Cole

Born and raised in metro Detroit, Craig was steeped in mechanics from childhood. He feels as much at home with a wrench or welding gun in his hand as he does behind the wheel or in front of a camera. Putting his Bachelor's Degree in Journalism to good use, he's always pumping out videos, reviews, and features for When the workday is over, he can be found out driving his fully restored 1936 Ford V8 sedan. Craig has covered the automotive industry full time for more than 10 years and is a member of the Automotive Press Association (APA) and Midwest Automotive Media Association (MAMA).

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  • Nefarious Neil Nefarious Neil on Oct 22, 2014

    They say so, but then companies like Hyundai and Ford are caught bullshitting their numbers. I have to wonder if this is based on false fuel economy figures.

    • Craig Cole Craig Cole on Oct 22, 2014

      We'll probably never have an answer, nor will consumers ever know precisely whether the fuel-economy readouts in their vehicles are accurate or not. I always suspect they're off to make drivers feel better, LOL!