Coming on the heels of the President Obama's State of the Union address last week, I was startled by the candor with which Jeff Alson, one of the EPA's senior engineers, spoke when he was interviewed by Nathan Bomey of the Detroit Free Press. Apparently USA TODAY was pretty surprised because they published it too.
Alson said Americans can expect to pay about $2,600 more on average for a new vehicle in 2025 in automakers if automakers hope to achieve the 54 mph corporate average fuel economy that has been EPA mandated by 2025.
Contrary to the president's comments advocating to "shift our cars and trucks off oil for good" Alson said that's not likely to happen; 9 out of 10 of those cars (in 2025) will still be running on gasoline. If nothing else, it's a curious test of his own job security... so we should be grateful for his honesty. He may not be around much longer, at least not on the federal payroll.
Alson says gasoline will remain most Americans' fuel of choice in 2025 because the auto industry will be able to squeeze more efficiency out of conventional engines through technologies such as turbochargers, direct-injection and eight-speed or continually variable transmissions.
Also also warned that consumers should not expect to see the mandated 54 mpg on the windiow sticker on an average mid-size new car in 2025. He said regulators expect real-world average fuel economy at that time to be about 40 mpg, up from the 20 mpg in 2010.
That's because of the pliable government formula for converting lab results to real-world sticker numbers and because the government lets automakers buy concessions to make it look like they're complying with the standard when they're really not. Such concessions are manifested in the extra credits the government gives for producing hybrids, plug-in hybrids and electric vehicles.
"A good rule of thumb is that the real-world fuel economy is about 20 percent lower than the lab numbers," Alson said.
Alson offered the following predictions:
More than 90 percent of 2025 model-year vehicles will be powered by turbocharged, direct-injection gas engines.
Most of those will also have eight-speed transmissions that save gas by shifting gears more efficiently.
The average new vehicle will be 8 percent lighter than those produced today.
So-called mild hybrids that offer stop-start technologies or a battery-powere supplemental propulsion will capture 26 percent of the new vehicle market; gas-electric hybrids that need no recharging (i.e., Toyota Prius) will account for 5 percent of the market.