“On fuel economy, the regulators allow you to pay a fine if you fall short. But on greenhouse gas, they don’t. You either meet the standard or they shut you down.’’
Cutting fuel consumption reduces greenhouse gases, so Ford and other manufacturers are racing to incorporate new technologies in their pickups, including gas-electric hybrids and 10-speed transmissions.
Pickups face inherent disadvantages: Towing, payload and off-road capabilities customers want mean they weigh 12 percent to 15 percent more than comparable cars, plus they have the aerodynamic efficiency of bricks, Duleep said.
Mary Nichols, chairman of the California board, said regulators were caught off guard by the truck surge and now need to push manufacturers to equip them with the same fuel-saving technologies as cars, including aerodynamic designs and more gas-electric hybrids, especially in small trucks used for personal transportation.
Sergio Marchionne, CEO of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, has said his 2018 model Ram will save fuel with a bigger battery that lets the engine shut off at stoplights
Thirty percent of Ford’s F-150s already have this type of battery, and the share will rise to 60 percent next year. By 2020, Ford will have a hybrid pickup with batteries powerful enough for daily driving, CEO Mark Fields has said.
Ford also is testing a diesel-powered F-150, and may add a 4-cylinder engine for the first time in the U.S., a person familiar with the plans said. That may be a hard sell on the farms and construction sites where Ford has championed big, powerful V-8s for decades.
“Every upgrade we made to F-150 is to improve how customers use their truck,” Ford’s Levine said. “Lighter materials help F-150 tow and haul more than any other light-duty truck, while also providing best-in-class gasoline fuel efficiency.”
GM -- which is bashing the durability of F-150 aluminum beds in new ads -- will be forced to join Ford in using more aluminum to save weight in components including engine blocks, transmission cases, fenders and doors, said Mark Stevens, a retired GM vice president for engineering and manufacturing.
The new technologies save fuel but add thousands in consumer costs. Between 2011 and May 2016, the average price of full-size pickups jumped 24 percent -- almost triple the pace for all new vehicles -- to $41,606, according to J.D. Power & Associates.
Regulators measure fuel economy and emissions by setting separate car and truck targets for each size vehicle, then using sales-weighted formulas to determine a corporate average. They give credits for eco-friendly technologies, including aerodynamic design, then fine companies whose fuel-economy average is still too low.
Detroit faces an uphill battle for pickup relief because it already extracted a huge compromise: Obama agreed in 2011 to keep SuperCab-size truck mandates relatively flat for a decade and then accelerate them as fast as those for cars.
Automakers now want more time to reach the 2025 targets, even if they can’t change the direction regulators are heading. Within nine years, the U.S., European Union, China and Japan are scheduled to require fuel economy of 45.9 mpg or more and CO2 emissions of 122 grams per kilometer or less. Hitting the CO2 target in the U.S. means a 53 percent reduction since 2000, according to the International Council on Clean Transportation.