Toyota, American Carmakers Pressure Federal Government For Fuel Efficiency Changes

By Blake Z. Rong | February 15, 2012
If credit's what matters they'll take credit. An alliance of major automobile manufacturers wants the Obama administration to make some tweaks to its fuel efficiency standards set to take place before 2025, with more credit to the carmakers for introducing small, but beneficial technologies. The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers—which represents Ford, GM, Chrysler, Toyota, and eight other major auto companies—wants manufacturers to receive some credits for improving air conditioning, high efficiency lights, active grill shutters and start-stop technology. Nothing flashy like, say, SkyACTIV or lithium-ion batteries, but still a boon to fuel sippers everywhere. The Alliance claims that if the standards acknowledge these improvements before 2016, it would "encourage manufacturers to introduce the listed technologies sooner." Manufacturers earn fuel efficiency credits if they build a car that exceeds the standards for passenger cars or light trucks. It's calculated by how much the car exceeds CAFE standards, multiplied by how many cars are built that year. With these credits, manufacturers can offset any vehicle from a recent model year that failed to meet CAFE standards, in order to avoid paying stringent fines for building a purported "gas guzzler." Think of it as a get-out-of-jail-free card for your Corvette (which, incidentally, meets CAFE standards). Carmakers want to earn this credit for introducing minor fuel-saving features to their cars, like the ones mentioned above. Unfortunately, these credits can only be used if the changes apply to a minimum percentage of a car company's entire fleet. The Alliance calls this requirement "economically inefficient" and "may well have the unintended consequence of delaying the introduction of these technologies." The carmakers only have until next week, however, to keep filing comments to the feds. And there's a lot of money on the line: these regulations are expected to cost the car industry $157.3 billion as a whole—but the savings get passed down to you, the consumer, to the tune of $1.7 trillion saved in gas money by 2025. If this estimate is correct, then the $2,000 increase in a car's MSRP won't seem as bad. So, give the carmakers credit for that. Source: The Detroit News