One of the more interesting topics in pit lane conversation during last weekend’s CTS-V driving event was the growth of hybrid offerings from virtually all car manufacturers. As enthusiasts, most of us had a common opinion: hybrids were a knee-jerk reaction from manufacturers, scrambling to comply with upcoming Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) requirements. The new standards set by the current administration call for a CAFE of 35.5 miles per gallon by 2016; to put things in perspective, current CAFE requirements call for 30.2 mpg for passenger cars and 24.1 mpg for light trucks. Fines for manufacturers who don’t meet these standards (Porsche or Ferrari, for example) are reasonable today, but will rise to as much as $10,000 per vehicle sold by 2016. In other words, hybrids are seen as the best way to meet these Draconian standards in just four years. One problem: to an enthusiast, current production hybrids aren’t nearly as satisfying or entertaining to drive as their fossil-fuel-only siblings.
Enter the Consumer Federation of America (CFA), a group that Autoevolution tells us is petitioning the Obama administration for even stricter fuel economy standards. How strict? The CFA wants to mandate a CAFE of 60 mpg by 2025. Ironically, they’re pushing this standard because it will “save consumers money”, despite the fact that achieving these numbers would require the use of technologies and materials that are cost prohibitive today. Would anyone buy a Toyota Prius that got 75 mph if it cost $150,000? Probably not.
The Obama administration will publish their notice of intent for 2017 – 2025 fuel economy standards on September 30. If you like to drive, I suspect you’ll be in for some seriously bad news; in ten years, a current Toyota Camry may seem like a sports car compared to the new vehicle choices we’ll have. I’ve seen the future, and I sure as hell don’t like it.