For those of you who think that the new CAFE mileage standards for cars and light trucks will have us trying to pull our trailers and fifth wheels with under-powered, inadequate toy trucks and driving around in little tin can-like Smart Cars, you can stop worrying.

First of all, the standards call for an “average” of 35.5 mpg for all vehicles that fall into the car and light truck category. Larger vehicles will fall somewhere below the 35.5 mpg, while cars will average more than 40 mpg. An article by Joseph B.White this week in the Wall Street Journal outlines how those requiring larger vehicles–such as for towing heavy RVs–will still be able to buy them. Here is part of what he says:

“But SUV and pickup fans don’t need to fear that the 2016 federal mileage rules will send these vehicles the way of the woolly mammoth. In fact, the new framework for fuel-economy standards could be relatively easier on large vehicles than on very small cars.

“Under the new system, all vehicles won’t need to average 35.5 miles per gallon. They will need to meet or exceed a target adjusted to their size, or “footprint.” So, for example, a Chevy Tahoe, which has a footprint of 55 square feet, is required to get about 23 to 24 miles per gallon in 2011 and improve from there, under government rules already adopted for that model year. A smaller truck, such as a Toyota Highlander, is supposed to achieve about 26 miles per gallon in 2011 and then improve from that base over time.

“What’s more, there’s more room for weight reduction with larger vehicles. “Weight can be found in a lot of creative places,” says Tom Stricker, director of technical and regulatory affairs at Toyota Motor Corp.’s Washington office. Mr. Stricker says the details of how the president’s 35.5-mile-per-gallon plan will affect different sizes of vehicles are still to be determined, and he and his counterparts at rival auto companies are getting ready to “roll our sleeves up” to hammer them out over the next several months.”

White concludes, “Mr. Obama’s auto policy is founded on two big bets. The first is that oil prices will go up a lot by 2016, spurring demand for cars that are smaller, more efficient, more electric and probably more expensive, pound for pound.

“The second wager is that auto makers will repeat history, in a good way. After initially struggling to meet tougher mileage benchmarks in the 1970s and 1980s, car makers used innovative designs and technology to create 2008 model vehicles that not only were nearly 60% more fuel-efficient than the 1975 average, but were 32% faster from 0 to 60 miles per hour, and met a wider array of functional needs.”

Doesn’t sound to me like a doomsday scenario for larger vehicles–when they are needed. But it will get a whole lot of other people into more efficient vehicles. You can read the whole WSJ article here.

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162 comments

  1. Joe

    Wow, talk about reading only what you want to hear.

    You left out the part about weight (very important for towing), and the estimate that it will cost $5,000-$12,000 more PER VEHICLE to meet fuel standards for medium and large trucks.

    On top of that, you left out the authors observation that:

    ‘Based on the way new federal fuel-economy standards will likely work, and on the industry’s history in dealing with new efficiency mandates, people who like big sport-utility vehicles or pickups may want to pounce on them over the next several months, while they’re still cheap and plentiful.’

    In other words, we can expect lighter (bad for towing), much more expensive vehicles, and the technology to meet standards may not work very well (read: poor quality) until the industry gets the kinks worked out.

    Sounds great to me!

  2. I like how you have presented the information in full detail. Keep up the great work and please stop by my site sometime. Keep it up..

  3. I strongly object to the reference to a tin can with regard to The Smart Car. I have owned a Smart since 2006 – perfect transportation for two people – under 4 liters diesel per 100 kilometers – well built and reliable. Sure I run a 26 foot Class C as well and these will be around a long time. Every vehicle has a place and the Smart truly fills a need and makes more sense than commuting in a huge SUV with a just a driver. It also parks real easy so there!

  4. Bob West

    You are so right about the Smart. Not even tin. Mostly plastic covering which is easy to replace if damages. Under neath is a steel cage that protects quite well and lots of airbags. If I want to change my color I change the panels and have a new car with new paint and scratches are gone. about 1400 dollars installed. Mine is gas but still very efficient but less so than diesel. Would be nice to have some electric like my Prius but battery weight mitigates against that. So for now getting close to 50 and finding parking and ease of towing will have to do and oh did I say it is fun to drive and not costly?

  5. Joe – I left out the parts you mentioned as that was not my point. The link was there so readers could read athe article in its entirety and not just the points I wanted to make. The reason that big trucks and SUVs are cheap is because they are dinosaurs, except for those that truly need them, such as for pulling trailers and fivers. You should be glad that the price of gas and the economy have make these behemoths cheap, it’s a better deal for you. And did you notice that last comment to included of White’s, “In other words, we can expect lighter (bad for towing), much more expensive vehicles, and the technology to meet standards may not work very well (read: poor quality) until the industry gets the kinks worked out. Note: UNTIL THE KINKS GET WORKED OUT. That is true of every vehicle put on the market. By the time your big truck is wearing out, the American big truck manufacturers will have had time to work out those kinks, and meet the competition from the other truck manufacturers that already have the kinks worked out.

  6. Charles Gee and Bob West – Thanks for weighing in on the Smart Car, that I have no direct knowledge of. That should help dispel the nonsense about “1000cc tin can death traps” that the detractors like to throw out there.

  7. Joe

    Bob – I don’t have a big truck. I pull a pop-up with a Honda Pilot SUV. With 5 people in it (the size of my family), we get better mileage, per person, than a couple driving along in their Prius.

    From a policy perspective, the correct path to overall better mileage and smaller cars would have been to raise the price of fuel (a gas tax) instead of mandated standards. We had a nice demonstration of what $4 per gallon gas does for small car demand last summer. The fuel tax would let people drive what they want to (or what they think they need) and pay for it. This policy is a silly way to put the tax into the price of new cars instead.

    From a RV industry perspective, the proposed policy will kill towables and keep fuel cheap for Class A/C’s. Compared to an across the board fuel tax, I can see why the RVIA choose this option.

    With all due respect (looking at some of your comments from your last blog post), you might consider doing some reading on energy and physics if you’re going to write about these things. One great place to start would be the energy chapters of a book called ‘Physics for Future Presidents’. I guarantee you’ll be surprised at what you learn.

    I understand that you’re not likely to buy the book based on my recommendation, so maybe you will be willing to click here and at least look over one of the chapters:
    http://muller.lbl.gov/teaching/Physics10/PffP_textbook_F08/PffP-01-energy-F08.htm

    Alas, things are not as straight forward as you seem to think.

  8. Joe

    For what it’s worth….the comment you quoted as White’s (about towing, cost and the kinks) was mine and not his.

  9. Joe – I read the book a few months ago, and there were some interesting points that he made, others a stretch. The bottom line on this (I have no argument with your fuel tax ideas) is that we are still dealing with politics. When the car companies needed money, it was the perfect time to get them to produce more efficient cars. Your assumption that they will not be producing larger trucks or SUVs is wrong. They will continue to produce them ,but the will be more fuel efficient and those that want large vehicles will pay more for them. That action on the part of the government was a lot easier to swallow (look how fast the auto industry jumped on board) that imposing gas taxes whichwould had enflamed the public. Politics dictates that you have to take the steps that are doable, not the ones that are perfect but will not be accepted by the public or passed by the congress. You are also wrong on the concept that the new CAFE standards will kill towables. The standards call for medium duty trucks increasing mileage from 24 mpg (the current standard that was in place) to 26 mpg. That’s hardly a towable killer. You are also assuming that achieving these standards will lower quality, power, and usability. As I’ve said before, these are standards already accomplished by other manufacturers, at no loss of power or quality. And the American manufacturers will get there to if they want to compete. And your argument about your Honda Pilot mileage measured “per person” is an attempt at muddying the waters. Are you telling me that you never drive the Pilot except when you are towing and have five people in the car? And at the same time saying that a Toyota Prius will only hold two people?

  10. Joe

    I’m not sure what you’re reading Bob, but it’s clear that we’re not reading the same things. First, the book isn’t an opinion piece. It’s consists almost entirely of scientific facts (it was based on a science course at UCLA). I’d like to know which parts you think are a ‘stretch’.

    Second, I didn’t assume that SUV’s and trucks will not be produced. I said they will be lighter weight, much more expensive and of poorer quality. I’m sure you can understand the difference.

    On the new standards and towables…. You point out the mileage increases, but that ignores towing capacity which isn’t mandated. Manufacturers will increase mileage, but my prediction is that towing capacity will suffer as a result. You cite medium duty trucks moving from 24 to 26mpg and mention some other manufacturers that meet those standards with ‘no loss of power or quality’. Show me something made that will tow a 30′ fifth wheel with an EPA mpg rating in that range (driving mpg, not towing). I’d love to buy one. I’m sure thousands of other RVers would too.

    Finally, one more RV industry prediction. Fifth wheel owners will move to even bigger commercial tow vehicles (like Freightliners and Internationals) to escape the consumer truck restrictions. The extra $5k-$13k per consumer truck will make the prices more attractive and the capacity for the job will be unmatched. Among serious RVers, anyway, the new regulations will actually result in a lower average MPG and even bigger rigs on the road.

    P.S. – we have at least 4 people in the Honda Pilot 90% of the time. For other trips we drive a smaller car. MPG per person is a valid way to look at things. I imagine you’re familiar with highway express lanes in big cities that you can qualify for based either on (a) driving a high mpg vehicle like a hybrid or (b) having more people in the car). It’s just not as easy to regulate.

  11. Joe

    One more point on towables. The reason towables will die is because the average casual RV family won’t have a vehicle in the driveway that will tow much. Vehicles will be available for a price, but the average family won’t have one. That will kill demand for the segment.

    Imaging taking your family to the RV show and realizing that the only thing your family car can tow is the smallest of pop-ups. Most people are not going to find another vehicle, they’re going to find another hobby.

  12. John Shelton

    ” You cite medium duty trucks moving from 24 to 26mpg and mention some other manufacturers that meet those standards with ‘no loss of power or quality’. Show me something made that will tow a 30′ fifth wheel with an EPA mpg rating in that range (driving mpg, not towing). I’d love to buy one. I’m sure thousands of other RVers would too.”

    Joe, I re-read this article 3 times and I fail to find ANY reference to medium duty trucks other your suggestion of such reference. This subject legislation only affects automobiles and LIGHT duty trucks (EPA defined as under 8500 lb gross vehicle weight rating) One is not prudent to be attempting to manage a 30′ fifth wheel trailer with a truck with lower than an 8500lb. G.V.W.R. in the first place; therefore this new legislation will not affect large fifth wheel and large travel trailer power units. These trucks that are capable of towing large RV’s are totally unaffected by this particular piece of legislation. Perhaps by the time 2016 rolls around, a mandate will require that lessons learned from light duty trucks will be applied to medium duty trucks so we will be able to tow our 30′ towables and get 18 or 20 MPG (or the equivalent in CNG, or electricity, or some other fuel) doing so, but we cannot cross that bridge until it is built.

    In the meantime, rest assured that medium duty (and heavy duty highway) truck manufacturers and medium and heavy duty truck suppliers are currently working feverishly to develop methods and products to improve driveability and fuel mileage on every weight class of trucks. All these developments will make their way into the RV sector as soon as they are deemed to be “road ready”.

    That’s my story, and I’m stickin’ to it!!

  13. John Shelton

    “Imaging taking your family to the RV show and realizing that the only thing your family car can tow is the smallest of pop-ups. Most people are not going to find another vehicle, they’re going to find another hobby.”

    Joe, You are showing your age on this one!!! I am old enough to remember when FAR more travel trailers were towed with the family Ford Fairlane, Chrysler New Yorker, Buick Road Master, etc., etc. In the late 60’s and 70’s I read horror stories of how an automobile without tailfins (aka “downsized automobile”) would be so unstable towing a trailer that the RV industry would die if cars became smaller. Cars became smaller, did the RV industry die? NOT!!! Sure, there was a change in what we towed our towables with, but the RV industry never missed a beat. The RV industry will survive this bump in the road again and will continue to flourish. The RV industry will also survive the current economic crisis and will be back in all its glory. Promise!

  14. Michael R. Wiltsey

    I’m not quite sure what all of the fuss is about. Global warming is a grand hoax and we have plenty of domestic oil if we choose to drill for it.

    Global ambient air temperatures have been decreasing or remaining static for the last 10 years or so, while anthropogenic carbon dioxide has been increasing. Anyway, the human contribution to carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is approximately 3 percent of the total. We’re hardly changing the weather.

    There are many more important environmental problems to solve that will help many more people for much less cost to society. The global warming hoax is about separating Americans from much more of their hard earned money through “Cap and Tax (Trade). Hold on to your wallet!

  15. Joe

    John – the reference to ‘medium duty trucks’ was made by Bob Diffey in the comment at 4:38pm (3 above yours). He makes the 24 to 26mpg reference in the same comment. I don’t know where he got those numbers. Maybe he’ll chime in and answer.

    I’m still waiting to find out which medium duty trucks get that kind of mpg.

    About towables and showing my age. I think you’re misreading the kind of customer that’s out there today. Customers today want to take more stuff than ever with them while RVing. It can be bikes, ATV’s, boats, pets, electronics, and so on. Everything in the RV industry has moved bigger because that’s what consumers want to buy. Consumers live in bigger houses, and expect a higher level of comfort features. I know the die-hards will travel in whatever kind of RV they can get, but I just don’t see the average consumer being attracted to tiny trailers that the higher mpg vehicles will be able to tow. Families will go find something else to do instead.

  16. A couple of comments- the last tow vehicle I bought new (in 1987) had 240 hp and got 7mpg. Today, I could spend the same amount (adjusted for inflation) and buy a vehicle that has more power, and gets well over double the mileage- for a new diesel, 21 mpg solo is not unusual (or triple my 7).
    Ford recently made a *software* change that resulted in a 10% increase in mileage for the F150. Up until now, the engineering has gone for “more power”, the same engineering going towards better mileage and cleaner burning is certainly not a stretch at all. I get tired of folks thinking that we cannot do something, especially when we are already doing it. These same arguments have been put forward since the ’70’s, and are just as short sighted now as they were back then.
    We *can* do it.

  17. Roger

    How did the original $600 (Obama) + $700 (Bush) CAFE goals cost become $5,000 to $13,000?

    Some quick research shows dozens of cars currently delivering over 60 mpg and costing $20 – $27k. You don’t have to sell too many of these to meet CAFE of 35.5 mpg.

    I suggest that those most opposed to improving fuel economy of the US car fleet provide links to Engineering analysis that supports their figures.

    I will show you mine
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fuel_economy_in_automobiles

    Then you go look up the currrent car costs. I found Ford $26k, VW $23k

    As a reference
    Smart car $12k 33-41 mpg TODAY.
    Toyota $22k 51/48 mpg TODAY
    Don’t forget there is a waiting list to get these cars so don’t try and tell me people don’t want economy.

    Now I dare you to show me yours

    FYI
    My 2008 Coachmen Freelander delivers 10.6 mpg. This is the TOTAL for the first 5,253 mi, not some tail wind down hill figure.

  18. Joe

    Hi Roger-

    One of the new things about this version of CAFE is that you can’t meet standards by averaging across the fleet like was possible in the past. In other words, you can’t sell a bunch of 60mpg cars to make up for the 20mpg trucks. Instead, every class of vehicle is treated individually. Big trucks have to show just as much improvement (on a relative basis, not in absolute mpg) as the small cars do.

    $5000-$13000 came from the article Bob used to write his article. It’s an estimate of what it will cost big vehicles to meet the new standards and it applies just to the big vehicles that pull RV’s, and not across the board. Bob has a link to the article in his original post.

    Small car demand dried up to nothing when gas prices fell. There used to be a waiting line for fuel efficient cars, but now people are forfeiting their deposits in order to not have to buy one. That’s one of the reasons that a fuel tax (instead of what amounts to a car technology tax) would have been the smart way to go.

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123776430557508813.html

    I don’t know any of the people Chris is hearing from who think the new standards are not possible. There are cars on the road that meet the standards today. What people do think, is that we will end up with car choices that are either too expensive or too small for what people want to do (like pull RV’s).

    Pretending that we can’t meet the new standards is silly. Pretending that meeting them won’t have a big affect of RVers and the RV industry is silly too. IMHO.

  19. Joe – The book is taken from Professor Muller’s class at Berkeley that is a science class for non-science majors, and though based on science, he offers his conclusions (his opinion) based on the scientific facts as stated. I learned a lot from this excellent book, as he laid out the science on both sides of issues and presented a balanced opinion. Since I read the book some months ago I don’t remember specific facts, but one I do remember is his “opinion” that there was no substitute for gasoline in the immediate future. Electric cars are a very viable replacement for a large percentage of the driving public to reduce our percentage of imported oil, contrary to what Professor Muller concludes. Just look at how many car companies are coming out with hybrid and electric cars just in the next year—and at competitive prices and with competitive features. I will have to read the book again to refresh my memory to be more specific.
    Yes, trucks and SUVs will be lighter in weight, maybe initially more expensive, but I don’t know about the poorer quality. That’s your opinion. But there will still be ones produced that will meet the requirements of current medium duty trucks. The big difference is that people that don’t need a large, inefficient truck or SUV, will be persuaded into buying something smaller and more efficient. Since production of these vehicles will then go down, prices will conceivably rise. According to how I understand the CAFÉ standard, when the new standards are all worked out, the mileage increase required for each type of vehicle above light trucks—if any–will be based on its footprint, so that large work trucks will not be expected to either reduce their work load ability (such as hauling heavy materials in construction projects, ranchers hauling hay for their cattle, or RVers towing trailers and fifth wheels) or achieve impossible mileage standards. Remember that SUVs and light trucks had, until the current standards, been exempted from the previous CAFÉ standards so manufacturers had no incentive to make them efficient. Current technology has far surpassed what was available the last time the mfgs. changed engine designs, and it will not be difficult for them to meet the standards, no matter how much they complain. You may be right, but I may be also. As these figures are worked out and the manufacturers gear up we will find out. I think that the increased standard is readily achievable leading up to the target year of 2016—still seven years away–and that you will see trucks with the same ability—including towing capacity—on the market.
    As for your “RV industry prediction”, consider this article published May 26th in Truckin’ magazine (that calls itself the “World’s Leading Truck Publication”) called, Future of Trucks – I’m Still Hopeful: What New Economy Standards Mean to the Future of Trucks, administrator E. Sanchez writes:
    “While many believe this will be the end of the American pickup and pickup culture as we know it, I don’t have quite as gloomy an outlook. Will the truck of tomorrow by different than the pickup of today? No question about it. But will it mean we’re all going to be puttering around in featherweight, emasculated vehicles that struggle under the load of a few hundred pounds? Not likely.

    “For one thing, from everything I’ve seen and read, 3/4 and 1-ton trucks will still be exempt from this standard. Meaning, you’ll still be able to get your Super Duty, Silverado HD and Dodge Ram 2500 or 3500. Emissions standards are tightening up on commercial and heavy vehicles as well, but not to the same extent as passenger cars and light trucks.

    “What it likely means is you’re going to see more turbocharged six-cylinder engines in place of V8s, although the V8 is unlikely to disappear completely for quite a while.”

    Sounds like you guys pulling trailers and fivers will still be OK.

  20. By the way, I also wanted to thank Joe for his level headed and intelligent discussion and responses to those of us who disagree. It makes us all go back and check our facts, dig a little deeper, and learn something from the give and take, rather than from those who just sling arrows and talking points around withe little content. Keep it up, Joe. And I’ll take extra effort on what I write to make sure my facts are straight (I can’t find the reference I had to the 24 to 26 mpg on medium duty trucks, though I can find references to 20 mpg, and from what the manufacturers are saying about the 2010 models, they may be close to that. The other question is, what is a medium duty truck? The standards vary with whichever government agency you are dealing with. I used the DOT’s 10,000 lbs to 19,500 lbs GVWR for a medium duty truck).

  21. Joe

    Thanks for the kind words Bob.

    One of the points in the cars/energy section of Muller’s book is that gas is cheaper than even plug-in electricity per unit of energy. The ratios are made worse when you amortize the costs of the batteries, which do have a finite life and a substantial cost (not to mention a serious environmental impact during production and disposal). Current hybrids primarily use electric during the short period of acceleration when gas engines are the least efficient. Limiting battery use to that short period makes them last much longer.

    One of the most surprising things, to many people, is that energy from coal is even cheaper than energy from gas (almost 20 times cheaper). To make it even more shocking, the technology exists to turn coal into gasoline (Germany and South Africa have done it already on a large scale) and it’s economically feasible with current technology when oil is around $100 a barrel. We have plenty of domestic coal, and could reduce our dependence on foreign oil to 0 if coal–>gas technologies could be developed. Of course surrounding this issue come for free, and the problems of coal emissions and impact from mining are both areas where substantial progress has been made. The US had a coal–gas research program in the 70’s that was abandoned when that crisis was over. A number of domestic companies are working on way to make the process even cheaper and cleaner.

    Anyway, the link I posted in my first comment covers much of what I just said in more detail.

    Coal–>Gas is introduced here:
    http://www.greencar.com/articles/5-things-need-fischer-tropsch-process.php

    More to think about……

  22. Larry

    Bob,
    For an article on an RV site it is sad that you don’t understand the industry better, although through all the comments you did get some of the RV critical info out.

    Contrary to your statement, light trucks used to tow smaller loads have for years been included in the CAFE standards. If the window sticker had an EPA mileage number on it, then it was by definition a light truck. Thru MY2011, light trucks are defined as under 8500 lbs GVWR but also include vehicles between 8500 lbs and 10,000 lbs primarily designed for passengers, which includes very large SUVs, passenger vans and pickup trucks with bed lengths under 6 ft. Based on the article you referenced, costs on these vehicle might increase $5k to $13k to meet the new standards.

    Trucks heavier than above are excluded from the CAFE standards (for now) and these represent the bulk of vehicles used to tow heavy trailers and fivers. You stated regarding mpgs that “these are standards already accomplished by other manufacturers, at no loss of power or quality. And the American manufacturers will get there to (sp) if they want to compete.” However, the biggest volume of medium duty trucks in the US comes from GM, Ford and Dodge, not some “other manufacturers”. In addition, I’m not aware of any manufacturer publishing mpg ratings using the government cycle for vehicles excluded from the CAFE standards. If these trucks continue to stay outside of the CAFE standards, prices will be driven by volume/demand. Price increases may be less than for light trucks and owners towing small loads may stop buying fuel efficient expensive light trucks and just buy the less fuel efficient medium duty trucks. This will be unfortunate as it will certainly result in tighter government standards for MDTs. Finally, if new standards are applied to MDTs, for the sake of the RV industry and tradesmen, ranchers, etc. rather than city and highway ratings, solo and towing ratings would be much more meaningful.

    Roger stated “Some quick research shows dozens of cars currently delivering over 60 mpg and costing $20 – $27k.”

    I would sure like to see Roger’s list of more than 24 vehicles sold in the US with over 60 mpg and under $27k.

  23. Larry – If I made a statement that light trucks were not subject to CAFE standards it was an error or typo (thank you for pointing out the “to” typo). I re-read my blog above and could not find such a reference. Here are a couple of examples of light trucks meet or are close to meeting the 2016 standards now.
    The EPA rating for the hybrid version of the Chevrolet Tahoe and GMC Yukon is 21 city, 22 highway, which comes close to the new CAFE standards that don’t have to be reached until 2016. This is for a vehicle weighing almost 6000 lbs. with a 322 hp V-8 engine and a 6,200 lbs. towing capacity.
    The Toyota Highlander Hybrid 4-WD has an EPA rating of 27 mpg city and 25 mpg highway, exceeding the new CAFE standards.
    Medium duty truck will be subject to CAFE standards, it’s just that the standards haven’t been written yet. The standards will be based on their size and footprint and will not require as drastic improvements as passenger cars and light trucks, more in the rande of 2 to 4 mpg improvement. I don’t believe Roger said that there were dozens of cars being sold in the US with over 60mpg, I believe that is world wide, in other words, if other manufacturers and countries can do it, so can our Big 3. In Europe there are already over 100 cars that beat the new CAFE standards, and those standards aren’t required here until 2016. Again, we as a car and light truck building country, are behind and trying to catch up.

  24. Larry

    Bob,

    Here was the first statement about light trucks. ” Remember that SUVs and light trucks had, until the current standards, been exempted from the previous CAFE standards so manufacturers had no incentive to make them efficient.”

    You recognize that was a mistake.

    Regarding MDTs you stated; “The standards call for medium duty trucks increasing mileage from 24 mpg (the current standard that was in place) to 26 mpg. As I’ve said before, these are standards already accomplished by other manufacturers, at no loss of power or quality. And the American manufacturers will get there to if they want to compete. “

    Later for MDTs you changed the mpg number to 20 mpg and you also at least implied that standards for MDTs would vary based on “footprint”.

    But you also quoted from Truckin Mag. “For one thing, from everything I’ve seen and read, 3/4 and 1-ton trucks will still be exempt from this standard. Meaning, you’ll still be able to get your Super Duty, Silverado HD and Dodge Ram 2500 or 3500.”

    I expect someone not familiar with the RV or trucking world to get things wrong, many reporters don’t know the difference between a Motorhome and a Mobile Home. But someone in the industry should have a better understanding of light trucks vs medium duty trucks if they are going to publish something intended to help the RV public.

    Regarding hybrid trucks, Isn’t the light truck standard for 2016 something like 30 mpgs? If so, in my opinion, 22 mpg doesn’t seem that close to the standard. But here is the big issue, the 6200 lb towing capacity on the GM hybrid light truck is at least 2000 lbs less than the non-hybrid version. I used to have the same basic truck and towed a 6500 lb trailer. If only hybrids were available I would have to move up to an MDT and many other RVers and tradesmen will have to do the same thing. While hybrids are good for improving city mpgs and sound good on paper, they certainly don’t help towing mpgs and clearly hurt actual working capacity.

    Back to MDTs, my statement was the exact opposite of yours; “the biggest volume of medium duty trucks in the US comes from GM, Ford and Dodge, not some “other manufacturers”. “ If there is a foreign manufacturer building an MDT that is price, performance, quality, emissions and mpg superior to the Big 3 products, please name it. Of course, having that product for sale in the US would be a big plus.

    And my statement; “Trucks heavier than above (meaing light trucks) are excluded from the CAFE standards” agrees with the Truckin Mag. article.

    Finally, if new standards are applied to MDTs, for the sake of the RV industry and tradesmen, ranchers, etc. rather than city and highway ratings, loaded and towing ratings would be much more meaningful. But there is real danger that the government and green movement will destroy MDTs by simply increasing the weight definition of light trucks rather than really comprehending how work trucks are used and making sure that they can still function for the US economy.

    Regarding Roger’s statement, it seems implied that a vehicle is available for sale in the US if the price is quoted in US dollars and mileage is quoted in mpgs ( US gal., not Imperial gal. or something else). Referencing foreign vehicles is totally meaningless. If a vehicle can’t meet US crash standards, quoting a price in dollars (or any currency) for sale in the US is purely a guess. My understanding is that many foreign vehicles can’t even meet today’s US emissions standards, forget about 2016 requirements. Otherwise, there would be boatloads of these great mpg foreign vehicles headed to the US right now. As an example, VW had to work really hard to get the TDI to be 50 state compliant for 2009 emissions, they couldn’t just ship Euro spec diesels to the US. If VW, Mini or any Asian manufacturer has great gas engines why aren’t they already here in their cars that meet US crash standards? I understand Canada may have easier crash and emission requirements, if true, how many of these great mpg foreign vehicles are being sold in Canada right now but not in the US?

  25. Joe

    Along the same lines (why high MPG foreign vehicles are not for sale in the US), I waited for 18 months to buy a diesel Honda Accord, which is available overseas and is reported to get 50mpg.

    Honda announced around 2007 that they were bringing the diesel accord to the US, but were stymied by US emission standards (they already sell a US accord that meets crash standards). Finally,after 18 months, Honda quietly announced that they were abandoning their plans. They just couldn’t meet US air quality standards with a competitive product.

    Honda isn’t exactly behind in clean technology. Imagine what the companies who are behind are facing.

  26. Larry

    I wonder how many people don’t realize that an Imperial gallon (UK) is 20% bigger than a US gallon, so 50 mpg in the UK becomes just 40 mpg on our shores. Then if the emission changes impact performance or efficiency, then the benefit over existing US vehicles may not be cost effective.

  27. Another blow to those who use medium duty trucks to tow trailers or fifth-wheels, as GM announced today (Monday, 6-8) that they would be closing their medium duty truck lines down as of July since they have been unable to find a buyer.

  28. Larry

    After more searching I have at least learned a little bit. For cars and light trucks, while the standards of 39 mpg and 30 mpg by 2016 have been set as targets, I couldn’t find much in specific details, but here are some general points that I think are accurate.

    1) The term “footprint” really applies to cars and LTs, but how many different footprints will be set up or the mpg target for each footprint don’t appear to exist yet.

    2) Since not all manufacturers will produce all of the footprints, the idea of a Corporate Average mpg is really dead. If say GM produces mostly bigger footprints, then their mpg average will be less than say Honda. This seems like a good idea since it won’t force one manufacturer to produce small high mpg vehicles to offset bigger vehicles. This should allow each manufacturer to focus only on products that fit their strengths.

    3) There will also be a “credit” system, so if a manufacturer can create a product that exceeds the mpg target for a specific footprint, they gain credits that they obviously can use against another footprint or sell to another manufacturer. If this can be managed effectively, seems like it will encourage manufacturers to not hold back on improvements. But it also seems likely that the value of a “credit” won’t be any more than whatever the penalty will be for a manufacturer missing the target mpg.

    4) I also wonder how the combination of tight mpg and tight emission limits will be structured for each footprint. What if a manufacturer develops a new technology that will significantly improve mpgs, but only offers a modest improvement in emissions over today’s limits? Or vice versa? Will they not implement the new technology?

    Additional info confirms that medium duty trucks are exempt from mpg limits. NHTSA has funded the National Academy of Sciences for the following study “Assessment of Fuel Economy Technologies for Medium and Heavy Duty Vehicles” that began in September, 2008 and will take until at least March, 2010 to complete. 3/4 and 1 ton pickups are specifically included as part of this study and metrics might be totally different than what exists today for cars and LTs based on “the committee will comment on what might be an appropriate metric for a fuel economy standard or a fuel efficiency measure (e.g., miles per gallon or ton-miles per gallon or other measures)”, so maybe loaded and towing efficiencies will be considered. Now government mandates can easily over-ride this, but if not, it will probably take until early 2012 to establish MDT standards that would apply to maybe MY2015 or MY2016.

  29. John Shelton

    I have lately been trying to make sense of these new fuel mileage rules changes and find that the deeper one digs, the more confusing things get. For instance, when EPA , NHTSA, Congress and other govt. departments themselves use different “measuring sticks” how does one know what is a light duty truck and what is a medium duty truck? EPA categorizes automobiles according to interior volume, yet NHTSA who is given charge of fuel mileage enforcement, categorizes vehicles (at least automobiles) according to footprint. (Footprint is defined as average of front and rear tread width times wheelbase.) The method of measuring and determining Corporate Average Fuel Economy been changed in some way with this most recent legislation. There will be a 3 year phase-in period from 2008 to 2011 for manufacturers to conform to what is being referred to as “reformed” CAFE rules. There are certain conditions that can be met that will allow manufacturers to follow the “un-reformed” rules until this 2011 year model vehicles.

    Actually, my proposal here is to ask a simple question. WHO defines a light, medium and heavy truck with reference to fuel economy legislation requirements and what, specifically, are the definitions for each category? Can anyone provide a simple, accurate answer to that question?

    ***4) I also wonder how the combination of tight mpg and tight emission limits will be structured for each footprint. What if a manufacturer develops a new technology that will significantly improve mpgs, but only offers a modest improvement in emissions over today’s limits? Or vice versa? Will they not implement the new technology?***

    Larry, as we all know, manufacturers are in business to make a profit. They will engineer and develop to meet minimum requirements and nothing more. Unless there is an economic incentive (from whatever source – regulation or marketplace) for them to exceed requirements, they will not exceed requirements in any area. If they develop something that gives them a marketing advantage over a competitor, they would implement the change, but the consumer would have to push the issue with their pocketbook.

  30. Great blog. I love to read all the discussions. Very interesting. Thanks for sharing. Check out my site sometime.

  31. sandpirate

    Let them build what they want. When I decide to go on vacation & I hook up my Chevy 3500 HD LTZ to my 37′ Fiver. I will make sure my over-size turbo is spooling hard & heavy. I get a little tired of folks complaining about what should be done to auto industry. Yes, we do need vehicle’s that are efficient, but until Chevron, Shell, Exxon don’t change to another fuel alternative. We will be paying through the nose for our vacations.

    Good luck boys, don’t argue. Plan another vacation.

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  162. Henrietta

    What a pleuasre to meet someone who thinks so clearly