Published August 16, 2012
By Jeff Cobb
2013 Ford C-Max Energi plug-in hybrid.
Yesterday the Obama administration was expected to announce final fuel economy rules ramping up to a “54.5” mpg fleet-wide average from 2017-2025 for North American auto producers.
As it was, the self-imposed August 15 deadline came and went for Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) mandates formulated by the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that would amount to low-40 mpg on actual window stickers.
“The rule is still undergoing interagency review and we expect that process to be completed soon," said Lynda Tran, a NHTSA spokeswoman to Automotive News.
Aside from this deflection, administration officials did not give a more specific indicator as to what the delay was for, or how long would be a reasonable time to wait.
The mandates have the support of most automakers doing business in the U.S., the United Auto Workers Union, and environmentalists, with notable exceptions being German automakers VW and Daimler, and Japanese automakers, according to statements attributed to Toyota.
It has also been the target of repeated focused criticism by the National Automobile Dealers Association, and most recently by a congressional inquiry led by California Republican Darrel Issa who serves as chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.
The Obama administration has said the rules, while adding to the average cost of vehicles by as much as $3,000 per unit when factoring existing CAFE mandates, will be more than offset by operational cost savings.
CAFE is intended also to spur the industry toward advanced solutions to cut greenhouse gases and dependence on fossil fuels leading toward what is hoped to be increased energy security.