Reader Question: CAFE Calculations?

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Here’s the latest reader question, along with my reply! 

Mark asks: How are CAFE standards computed? Do they take the average of the automaker’s model lineup? Do they look at all the vehicles an automaker has sold? I was curious, because each method will yield different results. Taking the average of an automaker’s model lineup seems to be the fairest way to do it, since it accounts for what that automaker has available. Taking the average of what they sell seems to be unfair. Even if an automaker offers high-mileage cars for sale, if the public doesn’t buy them; if the public buys the automaker’s bigger, lower mileage offerings; then their CAFE number will be lower. Seems to me that this penalizes the automaker, because they can’t force people to buy vehicles they don’t want or need. Of course, it would be nice if CAFE were totally done away with, but I don’t see that happening.

My reply: The formula – the math – is arcane; see here for some first-class government gobbledegook.

Of course it is unfair – and, generally. The most popular models are the least fuel-efficient models (viz, the best-selling Ford F-150). The government demands – de facto, via the regs – that “economical” cars be made and so they are. But there is not much profit in them. The models that make money are the ones that aren’t CAFE-compliant. It puts the industry in the Kafkaesque position of having to build cars for which there is no demand while being penalized for building vehicles for which there is demand.

The whole premise of CAFE is idiotic.

The idea that it requires government force to compel the car companies to make vehicles that the market wants.

If there is market demand for high-economy cars, there is profit in making and selling them. Is it possible to present a more fatuous argument than the one that claims the car industry has to be forced to make cars its customers want?

In fact, CAFE exists to cock-block what the market wants. To force people to buy what the government wants. The car industry responds by engineering end-runs, using technology to make the popular vehicles more compliant with CAFE while still being what the buyers expect them to be.

But this adds layers of expense to cars (see today’s lead rant) and so obviates the “savings” on fuel.

The whole thing is a sick, evil con and it’s high time the carny got thrown in the pond with an anchor tied around his neck!

Got a question about cars – or anything else? Click on the “ask Eric” link and send ’em in!

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