EPA Says 1 in 4 New Vehicles Meets 2016 Emission Standards Today; 2025 is Another Issue

Apparently, meeting future emission standards shouldn’t prove too hard for auto manufacturers as one would expect. That’s because according to an Environmental Protection Agency official, one-quarter of all new vehicles today already meet federal emission standards that won’t come into effect until 2016.

Jeff Alson, senior policy advisor at the EPA Office of Transportation and Air Quality, said during an event at the agency’s Ann Arbor test facility that nearly 90 new models sold today either meet 2016 emission targets or can meet them simply with air condition improvements and no powertrain changes.

Alson commented that vehicle manufacturers’ progress in the fields of fuel efficiency and CO2 emissions are “on a pace that none of us would have predicted a few years ago”.

“The big improvements and innovation in fuel economy for the conventional gasoline vehicles have made (selling electric vehicles) a much tougher challenge,” Alson told the Detroit News.

The downside is that none of the gasoline-powered models, which account for half of that fleet, would meet the much stricter 2025 standards. Only 25 out of the 90 models, all of them hybrids, all-electric and fuel-cell-powered, which make up for a measly 3 percent of today’s total U.S. market, would be able to do so.

Does that spell the end of the gasoline-powered engines?

Not yet, at least according to senior manager of environment and energy strategy at American Honda’s product regulatory office Robert Bienenfeld.

He believes that technologies such as downsizing, turbocharging and direct injection will make it possible for gasoline engines to “dominate” until the end of this decade. “I don’t think customers are going to notice a lot in the next seven years”, he said.

Meeting the 2025 emission and 54.5 mpg Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) targets, though, is going to be much more difficult: “After that, we’re going to need some strong market signals to head toward more electric options”, said Bienenfeld.

The government projects that the use of new technologies and lightweight materials, such as magnesium and aluminum, which will enable manufacturers to achieve the 2025 CAFE target will raise the price of new cars by an average of US$2,000.

The National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) estimates that, if enforced, the new standards will result in a US$5,000 hike in the average price of new vehicles, making them too pricey.

By Andrew Tsaousis

Story References: Detroit News

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