DETROIT Jan 15 Changes in the U.S. political
climate or consumer tastes may force a revision of federal
standards that require automakers to nearly double the overall
gas mileage of their cars and trucks by 2025, industry
executives said on Wednesday.
Executives expressed confidence the industry can hit the
higher targets, which were finalized by the Obama administration
in 2012. But the figures come under a "midterm review" in 2017
and it is open question whether the targets survive.
"We know we're going to have a new president," at that time,
said Brian Kesseler, head of power solutions at supplier Johnson
Controls Inc, said during a conference coinciding with the
Detroit auto show.
"We don't know who it will be and so that will frame it," he
said. "I think (the targets) are achievable. Will it manifest
itself in a regulation? Jury is still out."
The 2025 goals call on automakers to boost their corporate
average fuel economy (CAFE) to 54.5 miles per gallon, up from
29.7 mpg in 2012 and 30.5 miles per gallon in 2013.
Hybrids, electric cars and gas-powered vehicles equipped
with turbochargers that boost fuel economy tend to cost more
than more traditional cars, although the gap is shrinking.
Consumer demand for vehicles that get better fuel economy
may wane, said Ford Motor Co's purchasing chief Hau Thai-Tang,
adding that the second-largest U.S. automaker has a detailed
plan to hit the targets.
"The one caution we have (is) if the regulatory requirements
really outpace the consumer demand, is that a healthy thing for
the industry?" Thai-Tang said. "And that's going to have to be
part of the dialogue."
CAFE is a theoretical standard used to check if companies
are meeting fuel economy targets, but it is not the same as the
real world gas mileage found on the window stickers of new cars
at U.S. dealerships. That "real world" gas mileage figure is
measured by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
The 2025 CAFE target translates to 36 miles per gallon or
higher in real world driving, according to some experts.
The average fuel economy of new vehicles sold in 2013 was a
record 24.8 miles per gallon, according to the University of
Michigan Transportation Research Institute.