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VW Cries Out: New MPG Standard Tough On Cars, Gentle On Trucks

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On: Mon, Aug 1, 2011 at 3:27PM | By: Chris Salamone

VW Cries Out: New MPG Standard Tough On Cars, Gentle On Trucks

While many automakers flocked to support President Obama’s proposed increase to mileage standards, Volkswagen has made it abundantly clear that the plan requiring an average of 54.5 mpg by 2025 shows favoritism toward automakers producing trucks. Volkswagen US spokesman Tony Cervone claimed that while passenger cars would have to meet the stringent demand of 5% annual improvements, light trucks—a segment in which VW is noticeably absent—would have to achieve only 3.5%

Cervone went on to state that “the largest trucks carry almost no burden for the 2017-2020 time frame, and are granted numerous ways to mathematically meet targets in the outlying years without significant real-world gains. The proposal encourages manufacturers and customers to shift toward larger, less efficient vehicles, defeating the goal of reduced greenhouse gas emissions.”

Despite valid concern, and assuming the proposed 2025 standards do provide less strict standards for trucks, any requirement to increase mpg in trucks may be an incredibly high burden for any automaker. VW has not indicated specifically how less strict standards for trucks might encourage a shift toward gas-guzzling vehicles. VW was quick to announce, however, that the proposed standards fail to consider the value of clean diesels in the United States. It may come as no surprise that VW utilizes clean diesel technology in several of their vehicles.

While automakers like Detroit’s “big three”, Toyota, BMW, Honda, Nissan, and Hyundai joined President Obama during his announcement on Friday, VW chose to speak out against the plan. Cervone also noted that VW looked forward to future discussions with the White House regarding a more fair and equitable standard.

Looking at the market as a whole, it seems incredibly unlikely that truck-producing automakers will receive favoritism from CAFE standards which have more lenient requirements for trucks. If anything, the proposal grants truck-making companies the ability to compete while continuing to offer the truck models US consumers love and depend on. If all vehicles were required to meet the same standards, then trucks would either be eliminated, priced out of the market, or the proposed mpg average would need to be significantly reduced. None of which are reasonable alternatives.

In sum, until VW actually demonstrates how the proposed plan disadvantages VW (rather than merely allowing truck-makers to compete), VW's recent whining about lower standards for trucks comes off as a ploy to bargain for standards which somehow benefit VW.

In case you missed it, here's the official Obama announcement:

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dwalter | 9:17AM (Tue, Aug 2, 2011)

54.5 mpg fleet-wide average is quite a jump. I'm surprised more companies aren't complaining.

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