CAFE to Push Truck Makers to the Limits

Longtime industry insider and automotive journalists Gary Witzenberg has put together one of the most thorough discussions of the coming new CAFE standards, and what it will mean to new truck makers. The two big hurdles will be in 2017 and 2025, but the more important question might be what happens to new truck technology in the next four years. 

Here's just a quick excerpt: 

"Previously, when a manufacturer had a single number target, you had two choices of how to improve fuel economy to hit that target," says Michael Love, Toyota USA's national manager of Regulatory Affairs and Powertrain Planning. "You could apply technology to a given size truck to make it more efficient, or you could build smaller trucks. Under this new footprint-based program -- depending on whether the curves set by the government are truly size neutral -- there is little or no benefit to building smaller trucks. Your only options are to apply technology and make the vehicles lighter through vehicle design and materials technology, while keeping the same size."

He adds that the 2012-2016 rules require a very aggressive 4.0-4.5-percent annual increase. "With a five-year product cycle between major changes, every time you have a major change, you will need more than a 20-percent increase in fuel economy. What technologies will get you a 20-percent increase? And what will you need for your next 20 percent?"

The rules for 2017-2025, to which the manufacturers have nominally agreed, also require about a 4-percent annual increase for cars. Full-size trucks get no increase through 2020, after which their annual rate of increase will also be about 4 percent for 2021-2025. "That was negotiated with the government to benefit full-size pickups," Love explains, "and there are some yet-to-be-defined bonus credits for full-size hybrid pickups."


For the full story, read "The New Standard." 


Good luck!

They tried this once already. It didn't work in the 1980s and it won't work today...

I foresee some combination of the following three things happening:

1. Auto manufactuers will acheive the numbers set forth to some degree (probably not completely) and people will just end up driving more and the net effect on the amount of oil used and/or imported will remain more or less the same.

2. Unable to comply, auto manufacturers will plead poverty and the standards will be relaxed/frozen (just as they were in the late '80s and '90s) by the same meddlesome elected idiots that are passing it today.

3. Either political instability's effect on supply or actual scarcity caused by diminishing oil reserves will solve the problem for us, causing oil prices to rise enough to make manufactures innovate and achieve these numbers and then some.

You can't legislate reality. The laws of supply and demand cannot be changed, only temporarily perverted. One way or another market pressures will become political imperatives and this will all work itself out.

One way or another...

What a crock of crap. Make them more complicated and more expensive, awesome

Rumor has it the 2013 Ram will have an active suspention that can raise and lower the vehicle for better areo, as well as active grill louvers(sp?).

I wonder what consequences the gov has for vehicles that can't meet there targets. Will they fine the automakers or will the vehicle simply not be allowed to be sold. I'd like to see the automakers just stand up to big gov and say NO. This seems borderline communist and makes me like my old 93 Cummins that much more.

Did you vote for Obama?

For those of you who voted for Obama to prove you weren't racist, this time around you need to VOTE OBAMA OUT to prove you aren't stupid. He is blocking Boeing from building a new plant in a right-to-work state which would create hundreds of jobs, he blocking the Keystone Pipeline which would create hundreds of jobs, and he's choking the privater sector with these EPA emissions and regulations designed to kill the American dream and the common man. The guy has got to go America!

This S#$% pisses me off to no end. The Gov needs to worry about fixing our F%^&*$#@ economy before they start telling auto manf what the MPG target is. This is more Obama BULLS%$T. And no I didnt vote for the DUMBA$$.

Instead of bitching about the government, lets talk about new tech that would help automakers meet the new goals.

Now think about Gm not pushing the limits of fuel economy of a fullsize and just focusing on a smaller truck; And its probably too late for GM to turn back on the next 1500. Kinda sad knowing GM's fullsize would only be good for a few short years, by then everyone else will have a better fullsize, but hey, alteast GM will have a great midsize in a market were midsize trucks sell less and less every year lol.

Good. Better fuel mileage is great. The only next option is to scale the trucks down a bit. America, its time to lose weight!

bring back the compacts. I sick and tired of car makers refusing to build something because steal sell way form there medium duty trucks and try force some thing that some who likes compact does not want to buy. the small trucks sold well until the car makers started mess up with what made compacts sell well. and build hybrid compacts too. full sizer were never about mpgs but the compacts were all about mpgs.

i agree with Jordan L the auto companys need to take a stand and say NO. there is only so much you can do to gain better mpg and keep truck cheap for people to be able to buy them

In the OP, it says "You could apply technology to a given size truck to make it more efficient, or you could build smaller trucks" Well they all build smaller trucks but they did not make them any more effiecent then the larger trucks. Talking about putting your foot in your mouth.....

Sounds like the government was heavily lobbied for min fuel increases especially for full sized pickups. Of course the auto industry wants the status quo. Depending on the starting point, a 4% increase between 2012 to 2016 isn't much of a change for pickups. Assume 18mpg for 2012 and you end up at 21 mpg in 2016. The F150 ecoboost did that in 2011.

De rated hybrids and i mean de-rated is probably the only way it will happen.

V6's and 4 bangers and not much else.

Won't help as then the used truck market will live very well.

There are a lot of people upset about the upcoming regulations and I also think their is a bigger picture that a lot of us are missing as I know there is there is a bigger picture than my beloved 2010 Tundra that I bought brand new and supercharged and that the bigger picture is the environment and the $ saved on oil. I hate to tell people but the non pickup loving people have breathe the same air and live in the same environment we do and pay the same high fuel cost we do (supply and demand). There is a reason why some places have public smoking bands as non smokers should not be forced to be subjected to the problems caused by smokers. When you use your freedom and make the decision to smoke you know the the Surgeons General warningings about cigarettes but why do you think you should be allowed to encroach on the freedoms of other people who dont smoke and dont want to be subjected to any harmful effects caused by smoking? My only concern is that smoker were given a reasonable standard which was you can smoke as much as you would like just not in public so pickup owners should be given a reasonable standard and I dont know if this is it.

That is exactly the reason I hate the EPA and the obummer adminastration. I have no problem with better fuel econoomy but I don't want our fricking goverment mandating such increases and adding thousands of dollars to the cost of a vehicle.

I say let the free makret dictate what we drive, not our govt and get rid of the EPA!

a.) Why is this newsworthy?

b.) Why is this even an issue?

Under the legislation, which was no doubt written in cooperation with the oil undustry and auto industry lobbiests in secret, the car makers can pop out X number of tiny cars with high MPG, and still be able to have the super-sized americanized guzzler trucks that are so profitable and that people will go deep into debt to own to compensate for lack of happiness in their lives.

The only thing this article tells me is that insiders have absolutely no plans to un-supersize our freakishly large, wasteful guzzlers for the same size truck that the rest of the civilized world makes do with that already currently gets 40mpg, and they won't even shrink them down enought to shave off a mpg or two, which I don't know about you folks, but gas is nearly $4 here. that's like the cost of a sandwhich.
I'd rather have a smaller truck and not starve.

I'm all for increased MPG, but CAFE and EPA need to understand this isn't magic. Burning ethanol to slightly reduce emissions, yet reducing mpg for a net INCREASE in emissions is a perfect example of regulation moving backwards.

It would be nice to move the magic dial and set truck mpg at 57mpg, but that's not about to happen. Plug-in hybrid trucks are coming. Not because they are affordable, or even useful to those who need trucks, but because they will make the "magic (not real world)" numbers to satisfy this CAFE regulation.

There's your future right there.

If you look at the current model and the 2 previous generation from each manufacturer, you'll see a weight increase of about 700#. Payload capacities haven't gone up (including the F150, which gets even heavier with the high GVW package). Tow ratings grew to absurd numbers (and are about to shrink). GM may say they're not interested in a light pick-up, but that only works for a while. Trucks will simply need to become more expensive, even if they don't get much more complicated. Over the next few years, you will see every truck adopt:
*Electric power steering
*Some form of direct injection
*lower airdams
*electric fans- no more engine fan.
*Start-stop technology
*Lower ride height
Other tech to look forward to:
*single speed T-cases
*Smaller fuel tanks
*Frames like on european vans
*HD option groups that include an 8700# GVW
*Turbos- gas or diesel.

Small truck, 2.8l turbo diesel, 8 speed, 3.08 rear end = 30+MPG

CAFE dipshits can shape the trucks but cannot shape the market. Today over a million new 1/2 tons hit the road and that's around 80% of full-size. Tomorrow that'll shift to almost a million new and 'exempt' 3/4 tons hitting the road and although prices vary, an F-250 4X4 crew cab with vinyl everywhere is currently just $900 more that it's F-150 counterpart so it's not hard to see where most truck shoppers will end up.

Historically, 10+ year old 1/2 tons have been have been drained by Mexico and sucked up by Canada as well as shipped all over including South Africa, Australia, Saudi Arabia and Europe. We'll just be holding on to them alot longer is all.

Half ton sales are a million+ strong annually because nothing else has equal bang for the automotive buck with decent mpg especially with the vinyl clad editions. When CAFE changes this, 1/2 tons will make up only a tiny fraction of the full-size market so all their efforts will be in vain.

Welcome to what Europe has had to deal with for decades: intelligently-engineered trucks with small, efficient diesels. Think Sprinter-like trucks.


The only problem is that 3/4 ton+ trucks are no longer totally exempt from CAFE like they used to be. Even they have to get 20% better fuel economy by ~2018. No truck is safe anymore.

Ken Lyns, I didn't vote for Obama...but that is NOT what this is about, is it? Unless, all of a sudden when President Obama got elected, CAFE standards were put in place. you're speaking nothing but political rhetoric and nothing more. You people and your hatred for the presidency .... starting to think you people are a bunch of anarchists.

I say tax gasoline a bit higher if your desired affect is to take trucks off the road....that would deter people from purchase them if that is the desired result.

Go hug a tree Fat Trucks.. the current CAFE standards were put in (decreed) by the unelected members of the EPA under Obama's watch.

The EPA needs to be seriously reduced in size and their unfunded mandates repealed. ie CAFE standards.

Left on its own market conditions will dictate fuel effceincy.

As to corn ethanol.. that needs to go away as well. It actually takes more energy to produce than traditional petroleum products and is worse on the environment.

Plus add to the fact that so much corn is now being turned into ethanol it has dramitically raised the price of food.

F'ing hippies.

The small truck fans seem to be missing one very big point - there is no advantage to downsizing the trucks to meet CAFE rules. Vehicles will have to meet requirements based on "footprint". A smaller truck has a "small footprint" therefore proprtionally will have to meet higher MPG levels than a full sized.
"Previously, when a manufacturer had a single number target, you had two choices of how to improve fuel economy to hit that target," says Michael Love, Toyota USA's national manager of Regulatory Affairs and Powertrain Planning. "You could apply technology to a given size truck to make it more efficient, or you could build smaller trucks. Under this new footprint-based program -- depending on whether the curves set by the government are truly size neutral -- there is little or no benefit to building smaller trucks. Your only options are to apply technology and make the vehicles lighter through vehicle design and materials technology, while keeping the same size."

That explains why Ford chose to kill the Ranger, and why Toyota went as far as saying that they might stop making the Tacoma.

They will have different rules for HD trucks based on performance or ability to do work. That may push people into HD trucks if 1/2 tons get too expensive. Problem is, the HD's will get more expensive too.

I'd rather have the government stay out of things. If I have to pay 10 dollars a gallon, and need a truck, I'll go out and buy the one that saves me the most money, ballanced against purchace price.
Free market is an oxymoron.

The political rhetoric is amusing. Lets blame Obama who happens to be a Democrat.
CAFE came into being during the oil embargo days of the 70"s. Who were the presidents and their political parties during the entire CAFE program?
Richard Nixon - Rep
Gerald Ford - Rep
Jimmy Carter - Dem
Rnald Reagan - Rep
George W Bush Senior - Rep
Bill Clinton - Dem
George W Bush Junior - Rep
Barrack Obama - Dem
We have 5 Republicans and 3 Democrats that have made poor decisions in relation to CAFE.
It is easier for politicians to legislate or manipulate then to do what is right.
Politican denomination does not gaurantee a party doing what is right (right as in correct not as in right wing).

@Denvermike No they do not send 10 yr old US Pickups to Australia , Europe, South Africa or Saudi Arabia. Usually a small number of year old vehicles are sent here for RHD Conversion probably about 150-200 all up.The Numbers going to the other countries are pretty small as well.

@rsholland The Cab Chassis versions of Vans they use for Trucks. They do the job of F250-F350's
As well Europeans have a staggering number of HDT and MDT Trucks clogging their roads.

DB: Go hug Obama's nuts since you seem to be so infatuated with the guy........along with all your other friends who bring their stupid f'ing politics into auto blogs. Glad I am not so infatuated with Obama like youo and a few others on here, spouting your talk radio rhetoric.

I can see it now, "market conditions" apply, fuels go up, then the same got damned crowd you belong to will be screaming "it's Obama's fault" fuel has gone up "sooo much" under Obama, that I cannot afford to tool around town in my 4x4 truck any longer......wah...wah... wah. Bunch of little pansy, cry baby mutha-f'ers.

rsholland: I WELCOME the day we get these trucks like Europe has! there is absolutely no reason why we DO NOT have these good little workhorses.

But rest assured, oil tycoons and socialist treehuggers will not allow that to happen. Too much to lose for both.

@MrKnowitall I found the tow ratings they were giving, right out of Fantasyland. Look elsewhere on the net and you find the real world tow ratings people are experiencing ,much much lower. A case of the PR Department "engineering" the vehicle.

from Wikipedia (since I am too lazy to list any other sources):

Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007

On December 19, 2007, President George W. Bush rendered the court judgment obsolete by signing the Energy Independence and Security Act, which set a goal for the national fuel economy standard of 35 miles per gallon (mpg) by 2020. This would increase the fuel economy standards by 40 percent and save the United States billions of gallons of fuel.[31] This is the first legislative change to the CAFE standard since it was created in 1975.[citation needed] The requirement applies to all passenger automobiles, including "light trucks." Politicians had faced increased public pressure to raise CAFE standards; a July 2007 poll conducted in 30 congressional districts in seven states revealed 84-90% in favor of legislating mandatory increases.[32]

The big push for bigger CAFE standards was signed into law by George W and left the final adjustments for Obama's administration. This wheel was turning 13 months before Obama took office (before he was even the Democratic nominee).

I know this is bound to start another round of fights in the comment thread but facts are facts. Still the F150 is right at the CAFE standards until 2014 (go figure we are seeing a new model then.....hmm......) and the changes are pretty modest. The trucks really won't change much but we likely will see about 700 lbs shaved off and some more aerodynamic bodies (I'll say it first, I predict by 2025 the average 1/2 ton will have a cD of .35)

Represenative democracy has failed!

Stop blaming one side or another, they are both the same crooks, con-artists and ponzie scheme clowns...

I use an electric weedeater to cut down on emissions, I have goats on the back 3 acres to keep the grass down so I don't have to run the lawn mower as much for the same purpose. I recycle all of my plastic, cardboard, paper to cut down on what goes to the land fill. I have a fancy box mounted next to the water heater so it cuts power during the day so it saves me money and it helps the environment. I do drive a 2005 F350 Diesel because I have a LEGITIMATE reason to do so. I live on a farm and it does actual work and on the side it pulls my trailers and campers.

I had some woman come up to me in a parking lot once, yelling at me for driving my truck. She was a treehugger of course and she says I have no business driving such a monstrosity. I politely ask her what am I supposed to go get animal feed with, or pull my tractors on trailers with, haul the hay with, a frigging Prius? She just stared at me without a clue. Last time I checked farmers were the first environmentalist, but I don't need some treehugging hippie telling me what I can and can't do. Most of us, not all, use these trucks as tools in the service of other people so they can live their daily lives. If I don't use my truck for what I use it for then I don't grow soybeans, or corn, or raise animals and that means you hippie ass don't eat like the rest of us. And I certainly can't use a damn Prius!

@Lou and @mhowarth -I completely agree with you. The clean diesel truck standards came under the George W Bush administration. EPA was creating under Richard Milhouse Nixon. We are going to have these standards anyway but I do agree that it takes the incentive away for the manufacturers to make smaller trucks since they cannot combine the fuel savings over the entire fleet of a manufacturer's truck line. I don't think Mitt or Newt care that much about most of the bloggers on this site either. If Romney were still on Wall Street he would just buy up GM and Chrysler and have a fire sale to the Chinese (that would make some of you Ford guys happy until he went for Ford). When fuel skyrockets in price people will look for more efficient alternatives despite what the government does. Anyway I think the manufacturers still have a few more tricks up their sleeves to squeeze more efficiency out of their fleets. Don't give up yet the World has not come to an end.


Yeah, I cannot wait until a tree-hugger approaches my pickup...

Sometimes I enjoy driving into bigger cities like Chicago or Madison, WI. The looks I get are priceless...

But where I live in Wisconsin, pickups are an accepted part of life, all makes are welcome and most own one, nobody questions the value of a pickup in the parts of Wisconsin I come from...

Most houses in our neighborhood have a pickup, typically a full-size and nobody questions that. I guess I live in one of the last bastions of this great nation, that is away from any bigger city where those other folks reside in...

@mhowarth, Jeff - why let logic interfere with a discussion about trucks or politics ;) LOL

@Shawn - good story. My brother is a Forester for a huge logging company. He got in trouble once for not being politically correct. He was trying to explain logging practices to some greens (a lost cause from the start). He made the comment - "does a bear sh-t in the woods?........No.......they sh-t in the cutblock like all of the other animals." That does explain why he doesn't spend much time at the office ;)

I got into a debate with some greens once. This was years ago over logging in Clayoquot Sound. the eco-corporations whould show TV adds with pictures of a pristine forest then show a picture of a cut block. PLEASE SEND DONATIONS. They wanted to ban logging in the area and similar coastal rain forests. I pointed out that these were not fragile ecosystems, and in 5 years time the growth would be so thick you'd have a hard time finding a road.
I pointed out that logging was going on in the arid central interior where a rattlesnake lived that was on the endangered species list. I asked them why they were not protesting in that region? They had no explanation. I pointed out the reality - there was no visual and emotional impact for the urban dweller. PLEASE SEND DONATIONS. A scraggly tree every 10 feet, and an ugly snake. Who cares? I told them, "if that snake had the face of a seal pup, you idiots would be all over the place".

@ Jeff

I think the overriding argument for CAFE as opposed to purely market conditions is the automakers can't just change their product line or capabilities within a couple of months like say Intel or Microsoft might be able to. It takes a good 4-5 years before a product is ready for market. CAFE essentially assumes increased prices for fuel (duh!) and makes sure the automakers have the needed products in the future.

I agree that this likely isn't the best solution out there but it is the one with the least impact on the consumer initially and won't disproportionately hurt certain socioeconomic classes of people they way increasing taxes on fuel would.

over the past 30-40 years our trucks have gotten increasingly capable in their abilities (able to tow 13 tons) without any real hit to the fuel economy, plus they have made them so much more environmentally friendly that it isn't even funny and now a truck will hit 0-60 in less than 7 seconds. try that feat in a 1976 Chevy Scottsdale (I think mine took at least 11 seconds with the big 350 and only 2wd)

I wouldn't worry about having to drive a "sissy truck" or anything of that sort. We'll all be able to two 2 boats worth of weight behind us or haul a full cubic yard of pretty much anything legal to transport, just like we can today only we'll be getting 3 more mpg's. This isn't world ending change folks.

I seriously wonder how hard it is for some of the commenter’s on here to change their underwear every day if they are this resistant to change. :)

@Lou-True but I guess I am too logical. I don't think any of these politicians care that much about the common man. Mitt's proposed 10k bet with Perry & Newt and his current wife's 500k purchase of jewelry from Tiffany's. Also Mitt's pink slip (Golden Parachute). Give me Mitt's compensation for being fired and I would gladly take it. @Shawn and @Oxi we have so many pickups where I live that as soon as kids learn to walk they learn to drive their dad's pickups. There might be some Prius drivers here but they would not dare make a negative comment to a truck owner or they would be in danger of losing life or limb. When I lived in Texas they loved their trucks too. It was "Football, Texas, Trucks, and God". I don't think they are going to ever eliminate trucks--that would be political and physical suicide. Too many of us loyal truck owners out there and no we don't buy our watches at Tiffany's.

@mhowarth--I agree that it takes a while to transition but these manufacturers over a period of time will change their models just enough to meet the standards. Also don't be surprised if the manufacturers ask for some extension of time to meet some of these standards and the government will grant extra time. The government is not that anxious to put the truck makers out of business. I am not too worried about the demise of trucks. We will have trucks for a long long time. And yes the trucks have become more capable and more efficient and yes to some of the bloggers more expensive. I am still positive about the future of trucks and the ability of the manufacturers over time to meet these new standards. Over a period of time the consumer will adapt to the newer trucks with the new standards as the consumer has in the past. Standards have been meet or exceeded and this will still be true. Give it time.

@max- I know you meant that in a negative way but I am going to pretend you meant it positively, as that is how I see it.


Did 3 unique people (not fake posting under others' names) just sort of mostly agree with each other and not cause a single fight? Dare I say we had a civil conversation with somewhat differing opinions and none of us called another person some rude name?

I guess the world must really be ending in 2012 for all of that to happen in all places; the internet comment section!

This is how it should be. We may have a difference of opinion but we should respect each others view points. With that being said...

I'm all for better fuel economy, and I'm for less tail pipe emissions also. But I'm not for some Govt weenie or tree hugger tying to tell me what to do. I don't go and tell them to dump their Prius for an 18 wheeler. The Govt is spending GOBS of our hard earned money pushing cars and trucks that most people don't want and simply can't afford, hello Chevy Volt. The Prius sells well enough but the Leaf has sales but lets face it, its not setting the world on fire. Neither is the Chevy Silverado hybrid. Like others have said, the market has to demand it. With the price of fuel do you really think the automakers are not working on ways to make MPG's go up?

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