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Changes May Be Coming to CAFE

Originally Published in Trailer Life Magazine

The Bush administration is considering a major change to the current
Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) law that would rate vehicles’
fuel economy based on several classes of weight, rather than one car
standard and one light-truck standard.

A possible new rule would do away with the so-called “harmonic
averaging” to determine CAFE, which takes into account sales volume of
vehicles of different weights. The plan being studied would force
automakers to achieve better fuel economy in their heaviest “light”
trucks, including heavy-duty versions of pickups, which have gross
vehicle weights in excess of 8,500 pounds. Such vehicles do not
currently count against the automakers in their CAFE performance. It was
an exemption built into original CAFE legislation for commercial
vehicles, but which has benefited some personal-use trucks.

The proposed new system would take effect in 2007, the same year
that a current proposal would require automakers to increase fuel
economy by 1.5 miles per gallon across each company’s entire light-truck

Automakers are now required to meet a 27.5-mile-per-gallon
fuel-economy average for all the cars they sell, and 20.7 mpg for light
trucks—including pickups, SUVs and minivans. The CAFE standards have
been based on separate car and truck averages since they became law in

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