by Patrick Rall
President Barrack Hussein Obama recently announced the new CAFE requirements that will require companies to yield 39 miles per gallon by 2016 and 54.5 mpg by the 2025 model year. For most, the suggestion of all vehicles being subject to an expectation of 50+ miles per gallon paints a very ugly picture where we are all driving slow, boring trash like the Toyota Prius. But before anyone begins kissing their Hemi goodbye in the name of the new government mandate – a few key points show that American V8s will be alive and well, even when the new CAFE laws kick in.
First off, to understand how CAFE laws work, you have to look at what
CAFE means – Corporate Average Fuel Economy. These rules require that a
company’s entire lineup averages a given fuel economy rating. So every
vehicle doesn’t need to hit 39mpg in 2016 or 54.5mpg in 2025 – the
company just has to average that across the lineup.
Also, those are average numbers for the whole brand while companies get
to split up their cars and trucks with the cars having to hit 39mpg by
2016 while trucks have to average 30mpg. Even with that in mind, you
would think that cars that offer two-digit fuel economy numbers that
begin with “1” would be going away once the CAFE requirements get
tougher, but there is one more interesting aspect to CAFE: The number of
vehicles sold is taken into consideration when figuring a company’s
average fuel economy, so a limited run of something that only gets 20mpg
but only sends 1,000 units out into the world has no real impact on the
CAFE statistics. This fact helps to protect the future of models like
the Dodge Viper, as the poor fuel economy of this supercar are well
outweighed by the high sales volume of fuel efficient models like the
Dodge Avenger. Also, when a given company exceeds the CAFE requirement
by a certain level, they can earn vouchers to use in future years when
they may not reach the governments requirements. In fact, an American
automaker has never paid a dime in CAFE fines.
Next, we have to take into consideration the improved fuel economy of
today’s V8 engines. The 2011 Dodge Charger R/T with the 370 horsepower
Hemi V8 offers 25 miles per gallon on the highway, even though the
current CAFE requirement is 30.2mpg. The fuel economy of the Hemi
Charger is very impressive, but while it still comes up short of the CAFE
levels, the sales of more efficient models keep Dodge above the CAFE
bar. Technology like MDS (or Fuel Saver Technology depending on who you
are talking to) has allowed the mighty Hemi to pack unbeatable power
with fuel economy that the original Hemi designers back in the day could never dream of. Also, with the upcoming addition of Chrysler’s new
8-speed automatic transmission that will yield even better fuel economy –
the Hemi and other American V8 engines will be safe and sound.
What do you think? Are you still afraid for the future of your V8? Voice your opinion here!