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Corporate Average Fuel Economy, CAFE for short, is a series of regulations designed to improve the efficiency of vehicles sold in the United States. Automakers will be required to average 54.5 miles per gallon by the year 2025.

That may sound like an impossibly tall order but manufacturers have been slowly improving their efficiency each year. But in spite of this continued advancement NHTSA projects there will be a shortfall.

The government agency anticipates real-world performance will lag what’s supposed to be achieved. They estimate automakers will offset shortfalls with alternative credits. Think of these as extra points earned by selling electric vehicles, cars and trucks that can run on compressed natural gas or for pushing various hybrid technologies.

Still, NHTSA may not be right about this potential deficit, which they indicate could be more than eight miles per gallon by 2025. The projected achieved score is estimated at 46.2 MPG while the mandate is, again, 54.5.

A study penned by Michael Sivak and Brandon Schoettle of UMTRI, that is the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute and indicates that automakers have actually been outpacing the CAFE regulations for the past three years. They’ve been beating them without resorting to alternative credits.

UMTRI also indicates that CAFE performance has consistently increased since 2008. They estimate that if this trend continues automakers will exceed government fuel-economy requirements. But still, 54.5 is a huge number and it’s unclear how mass-market, full-line manufacturers will meet this ambitious target.
For more information about this story, Real-World CAFE Performance Exceeds NHTSA Targets and to check out some interesting charts please visit
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