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New U.S. Fuel Economy Standards Create Opportunities for ALABC-Sponsored Innovations

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New U.S. Fuel Economy Standards Create Opportunities for ALABC-Sponsored Innovations

As the U.S. auto industry complies with the strict new fuel economy standards finalized by the Obama administration on August 28, the industry will look for the most cost-efficient technologies, including those being developed in collaboration with the Advanced Lead-Acid Battery Consortium (ALABC).

ALABC-sponsored programs such as the LC Super Hybrid featuring stop-start, turbo charging, low-cost lead carbon batteries and improved battery management innovations can fit nicely into the auto industry’s plans to comply with the new standards.

The final rule mandates increased average fuel economy requirements for cars and light-duty trucks to 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025. This means that fuel economy standards will be nearly doubled for cars and light-duty trucks manufactured between 2017 and 2025.  (Click here to download a fact sheet describing the final rule.)

While the rule will increase the average price of a vehicle by $1,800 in 2025, consumers will save an estimated $5,700 to $7,400 in the price of gasoline over the life of the vehicle, according to officials of the US Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Transportation. The rule also is expected to save 4 billion barrels of oil and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 2 billion metric tons.

To help implement the new standards, the program includes incentives for manufacturers to produce more electric vehicles, natural gas vehicles, plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, fuel cell vehicles, and hybridized full-size pickup trucks.
These incentives will take the form of “multipliers,” meaning automakers will be allowed to count each electric vehicle, plug-in hybrid, fuel cell vehicle and compressed natural gas vehicle as more than one vehicle in their compliance calculations. Electric and fuel cell vehicles will have a multiplier of 2.0 beginning in 2017. Plug-in hybrids and compressed natural gas vehicles will have a 1.6 multiplier.

As part of its greenhouse gas emissions standards, EPA will allow automobile manufacturers to use emissions credits they accrued as part of the model year 2012 through 2016 standards to meet the new requirements that take effect in 2017.

There are other technologies that can achieve CO₂ reductions, but are considered “off-cycle” because they are not reflected in current test procedures. These include stop-start engines, solar panels on hybrids, streamlined aerodynamics and improved air conditioning.

A key question to be addressed is whether automakers will be able to increase the multiplier if they produce vehicles utilizing two or more of the eligible technologies. For example, if an automaker produces a natural gas vehicle and also plug-in hybrid vehicle that would be allocated 1.6 multipliers separately, would a natural gas plug-in hybrid vehicle be eligible for a higher multiplier?
EPA has said initially it would not support the “double counting” of multipliers, but nonetheless said such issues could be addressed in a comment period.

The rule also calls for the development of special incentives for advanced technologies for the hybridization of full-sized pickup trucks if the advanced technology is utilized across a designated percentage of the full-size pickup line.