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Volkswagen is one of the few car manufacturers in the US refusing to endorse the Federal Government’s new fuel economy standards.


(image courtesy of Reuters)

US President Barack Obama officially announced the details of the corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) strategy for new passenger cars, SUVs and pickups. The standards will see each brand’s CAFE increase from 35.5mpg (6.6 litres/100km) in 2016 to 54.5mpg (4.3 litres/100km) by 2025.

Volkswagen AG said it could not support the CAFE proposal because it gave more leniency to big truck and SUV manufacturers and placed unfair pressure on manufacturers whose focus was passenger cars.

“The largest trucks carry almost no burden for the 2017-2020 timeframe, and are granted numerous ways to mathematically meet targets in the outlying years without significant real-world gains,” Volkswagen said in a statement.

“The proposal encourages manufacturers and customers to shift toward larger, less efficient vehicles, defeating the goal of reduced greenhouse gas emissions.”

Volkswagen also opposes the plan as it does little to encourage the adoption of diesel technology in passenger cars.

“If one third of the vehicles on the road today were clean diesel, the US would save 1.4 million barrels of oil a day,” Volkswagen said. Mercedes-Benz has joined Volkswagen in its opposition to the new standards.

Other manufacturers have been more accepting, however, with the companies responsible for more than 90 per cent of vehicle sales in 2011 supporting the proposal.

Ford, General Motors, Chrysler, Toyota, Honda, Hyundai and a number of other manufacturers joined the United Auto Workers union president in backing the proposals.

The strategy will require passenger cars to achieve fuel efficiency improvements of five per cent each year between 2017 and 2025. Light trucks and SUVs have a more relaxed target of 3.5 per cent per year until 2021, from which time they will also be expected to meet the five per cent per year improvement target.

A key factor in getting the manufacturers onside was the Obama administration’s agreement to hold a review of the standards in 2018 to assess the impact of the program on the costs of manufacturers.

President Obama explained the proposal would lead to lifetime fuel savings of $US8000 ($7300) per vehicle by 2025 and reduce the nation’s oil consumption by 2.2 million barrels per day.

“This agreement on fuel standards represents the single most important step we’ve taken as a nation to reduce our dependence on foreign oil,” Obama said.

“These outstanding companies are committing to do a lot more. This is an incredible commitment that they’ve made. They wouldn’t be doing it if they didn’t think it was good for business and good for America.”

The CAFE standards are different to the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) combined cycle fuel economy ratings that most consumers are familiar with, however. The targets will actually be easier to reach than they initially seem.

The EPA attempts to provide a real world combined driving figure, while the CAFE levels are more lenient.

Automotive News takes the example of the 2011 Hyundai Elantra. Its EPA combined rating is 33mpg (7.1 litres/100km), but its CAFE combined rating is 44.4mpg (5.3 litres/100km).

Although the 54.5mpg target translates directly to 4.3 litres/100km, the 2025 target will be closer to 5.5 litres/100km measured in traditional combined cycle driving conditions.

  • Lars

    All spinn with very little substance!

  • Matt Man

    While I like VW, and enjoy up to 4.5L/100k in my 2011 Polo, I think its arrogant and foolish for VW to just flat out disagree. Remember if it were not for California’s strict emissions/mileage rules decades ago, we would not have what we have today.

    • Richard

      I agree on emissions but not on fuel consumption.
      If it really had any effect on fuel consumption why are US models of Japanese/European car invariable fitted with the largest engine available.

      For instance: VW Golf in the USA is fitted with a 2.5L petrol engine as standard!

  • flash

    This is a strange move by VW, it’s irrelevant what their reasons for doing this are, a lot of people don’t read articles they read headlines, and they will see Volkswagen not following the status quo. Interesting to see how this one pans out.

  • F1MotoGP

    I agree with VW. They should reduce fuel consumption for SUV more than for cars. More and more people buying SUV so it is more important.

    • Andrew M

      Trucks and SUV’s will be required to reduce their consumption more.

      Lets say an Ftruck uses 15L /100k.
      Over the 4 years where it gets a concession it will have to reduce by 2.1L/100k

      A small VW diesel on the other hand will have to reduce their consumption by .8L

  • davie

    so are American trucks exempt from these CAFE requirements? If so, I think VW have a point.

    • Andrew M

      No, they are not exempt

  • R32driver x2

    VW FTW !!!

  • Richard

    Well done to VW for exposing what is just a scheme to support local manufacturese of trucks and SUV’s. These are the vehicles that need major fuel consumption reductions.

    • Andrew M

      Not really Richard,

      Trucks and Suv’s will actually be required to reduce their actual consumption by more than a small car

      A truck is set to reduce their consumption by 2.1L over 4 years whereas a small car has a reduction target of .8L

  • AndyGF

    Hows that for a quote… O-balm-ie wants to reduce the US oil consumption by 2.2 million barrels a day by 2025.

    “If one third of the vehicles on the road today were clean diesel, the US would save 1.4 million barrels of oil a day,” Volkswagen said.

    Thats in today’s technology, not 2025’s. Its no wonder VW & Merc is bunking the ‘new standards’. VW already meets those ‘new standards’ today, so how can they be expected to improve themselves 5 percent year on year between 2017 and 2025?

  • Technofreak

    This is also a good laugh. VW = win! :)

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1715760895 Charles Dean

    Prius is more fuel efficient then the most fuel efficient Volkswagen..


    • Pogo

      Isn’t the Golf Bluemotion rated at 3.8l / 100km on the combined cycle?

      • Pogo

        And the new Polo Bluemotion (not sold here)looks like it’s rated at 3.30L/100km. (converted from 85.6 mpg)

    • Andrew M

      And the fiesta econetic is more fuel efficient than the prius and its hybrid tech, and the new focus more efficient again

      • Gizmo

        Focus more efficient?? Where did you get your information from?? The Prius has a rating of 51/48MPG.. Well above the 2012 Ford focus where the most fuel efficient model has a rating of 28/40MPG..

        Toyota Prius is way ahead.. So get some ideas before posting garbage..

      • Andrew M

        The econetic Fiesta is 3.7L/100 FACT
        The Focus econetic is 3.5L/100 FACT

        Does that now seem more factual for you??
        If not, just google it because I dont know any other way to explain it

  • ohyeah

    we will reduce emmisions… but for yall good folk driving big trucks, you need not wory, 5MPg is good enough.

  • Meanstreak

    Yeah so Charles is wrong

  • Jacob


    Build High Speed Rail, people will switch from oil burning Airlines to electric trains.

    USA gets a great chunk of their electricity from zero-carbon Nuclear Power Stations.

  • Glen

    “Light trucks and SUVs have a more relaxed target of 3.5 per cent per year until 2021.” They should have a 10% reduction per year.

  • Richard

    This program has very little to do with fuel economy. It has always been a thinly veiled attempt to control the winners and losers in the US auto market.

    If the administration is legitimately interested in encouraging the efficient use of a limited resource, why “tax” the manufacturers by dictating which vehicles require more expensive technology, and which vehicles do not? If the energy source itself was appropriately taxed, people would quickly determine which vehicle best suits their specific needs and budget. Of course, this would restrict the administration’s control over directing the program’s benefits to specific recipients (i.e. domestic manufacturers).