The Wall Street Journal “Today's Gas-Guzzling Exotic Cars May Get Zapped by New Fuel Rules” focuses on the problems specialty cars will have meeting the proposed CAFÉ rules. The new fuel economy standards will be based on a vehicle’s footprint. Specialty, high powered luxury and sports cars cannot meet the compact and midsize footprint mileage requirements. They will have to either redefine luxury and sport, or pay fines.
standards will be set for cars and light trucks for each footprint
size. For example, a 45 square foot small car footprint would be
required to average between 35 and 40 MPG. However, the same size small
truck would have to average less than 35 MPG. As the footprint
increases, the mileage requirement drops. This way the average new
American fleet will achieve 35 MPG, without eliminating large vehicles.
gives a few examples of the overall 2015 mileage requirement by
company: Porsche 41.3, BMW 37.7, Toyota (NYSE:TM) 34.6, and General Motors
The new standards heavily favor Detroit and foreign
full line manufacturers by allowing large cars and SUVs to continue,
but everyone will still have to adjust their definitions of performance
and luxury. Performance has been a horsepower race with little regard
to a vehicle’s weight. Luxury has been a gadget race, again with little
regard for adding weight to a vehicle.
In the new world, mileage
is fixed by vehicle size and by definition so is horsepower. So the
only way to increase performance is to reduce weight. Thus horsepower
per pound (HP/lb) will become the key performance metric. Since lighter
materials cost more, higher priced cars will sport better performance.
On the luxury end, each power feature added will require weight be
removed from somewhere else. Lower priced cars might actually have to
remove features to achieve a reasonable weight.
The new emphasis
on HP/lb will spur an avalanche of new technology in material science
and engine efficiency. This will be a great transition into the weights
needed for all electric vehicles. While not ecologically perfect, I
believe the new standards provide the right motivations for the auto