I wish I could say that I didn’t see this coming, or that I thought absurd fuel economy requirements wouldn’t actually get passed. Sadly, neither is true, and Autoblog tells us that the DOT, in conjunction with the EPA, will push for a 62 MPG standard by 2025. True, this represents a “worst case” scenario based upon a six percent improvement each year, beginning in 2017, but even the “best case” scenario (a 3% improvement each year) still requires a CAFE of 47 MPG. Say goodbye to high horsepower, fun to drive cars; in the world according to our elected officials, socially irresponsible cars like the Ford Mustang, the Chevrolet Corvette or (God forbid) the Cadillac CTS-V can’t exist. Say goodbye to manufacturers like Lamborghini, Ferrari and probably Porsche as well.
Why the jackbooted approach to fuel economy regulation? Two reasons, according to the DOT: preservation of the environment and competition in the global economy. Put another way, no other country will want to buy American cars unless we meet or exceed the mileage of our EU counterparts. Or so the DOT says, which completely negates the fact that cutting edge technology costs additional money, at a time when most Americans are struggling to even keep their houses. Will the government subsidize the purchase of 62 MPG automobiles that cost 3x what an economy car does today?
I’m all for protecting the environment and passing rational laws, but knee jerk reactions mandating technology that simply doesn’t exist today do no one any good. Maybe we’ll be in a position where electric cars are a viable transportation alternative in the future, but I don’t think that will be as early as 2017. How can you schedule a quantum leap in battery technology by a specific date? Maybe hybrid cars will improve over the next seven years, too, but I still don’t see a 47 MPG, affordable hybrid sports car anywhere on the near horizon.