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What Exactly is the CAFE Standard?

Constantly in the news, people keep referring to the CAFE Standard, but what exactly is it? With all of the technical talk associated with it, many folks are confused about the CAFE Standard and how it can affect all of us. So, all of us here at Carstar Black Hills Auto Body are providing a simple explanation of what the CAFE Standard is and how it will impact us now and in the future, here in Cottonwood, throughout the state of  AZ and all over the rest of the nation.

What is The CAFÉ?

The Cafe Timeline

The CAFE (Corporate Average Fuel Economy) Standard is a regulation on fuel economy of cars sold in this country. It was established by Congress in 1975 as a reaction to oil shortages and to alleviate air pollution. It requires that each carmaker’s fleet of cars and light trucks need to attain an average fuel economy above a set amount.

In 2008, this figure was 27.5 mpg for passenger cars and 22.5 mpg for light trucks, until the Obama administration issued a significant package of far-reaching federal fuel economy rules that aim to virtually double the present passenger fleet average by 2025.

The new Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) Standard set a 54.5 mpg average fuel-efficiency goal for the 2025 model year. The rules are expected to dramatically alter the way cars are made over the next several years by changing their features and some of their basic functions, as well as raising their price tags.

Specifically, trucks weighing over 8,500 pounds are not subject to the CAFE Standard, which has led to more and more minivans and SUVs in order The NHTSAto get around regulations. The CAFE Standard is based on the overall production volume of regulated vehicles and figuring in the amount of vehicles on the road for each fuel economy. It is a fairly complex algorithm, but the bottom line is--always ask about any car's mpg before you purchase it and make sure it adheres to the CAFE Standard. 

Average fuel economies have increased markedly since the introduction of the CAFE Standard, though a number of manufacturers (such as Daimler-Chrysler imports and Volkswagen, for example) regularly fail to meet it. The program's immediate goal was to double new-car fuel economy, raising it to 27.5 mpg by the 1985 model year. Except for the period from 1986-'88, when the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) lowered it to 26 mpg, the CAFE Standard of 27.5 stood for several years.

By doubling this number, car manufacturers are under the gun to make vehicles that are lighter without sacrificing strength. With a goal to make the planet healthier as a result, the mission is obviously something all of us want badly. These next few years will be a very interesting period in the automotive world, as all the big car companies will rush to that possibly elusive target number. 

Will our new vehicles in 2025 really be able to reach the 54.5 mpg figure and how will they do it? Stay tuned.

Sources: NHTSA, Wikipedia and AAS

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