How Will the New CAFE Standards Impact the Mustang?


Obama-electric-car2.jpgRecently, the Obama Administration announced the new requirements for the CAFE (corporate average fuel economy) laws set to go into effect in 2016.  These new CAFE standards will require automakers to yield an average fuel economy level of 39 miles per gallon for cars and 30 miles per gallon for trucks, vans and SUVs - the current requirements are 30.2 for cars and 24.1 for trucks so there will be a need for significant improvement over the next five years.  This has caused many alarmists to start rumors about the demise of performance vehicles like the Ford Mustang, but when you take a closer look at the way that CAFE laws are set up, it is clear that there is nothing for Mustang enthusiasts to worry about.

First and foremost, the CAFE laws do not require every car to meet that number but instead, the entire lineup must average out to exceed that number.  This means that by 2016, Ford's cars must offer an average of 39 miles per gallon, but on top of the fact that it is an average, the average is also weighted by sales volume.  This means that the cars that sell the most have the largest impact on a brand's fuel economy average and vehicles that sell in smaller numbers have much less impact. 

Next, when an automaker continually exceeds the minimum requirements under CAFE, they can earn vouchers that they can use in other years, should they not meet the CAFE levels.  This also allows Ford to offer special edition, high performance models like the GT500KR without any consideration of the fuel economy numbers because they make less of that special package than Ford sells Fusions in an average week.

The Ford Fusion has become one of the bestselling cars in the US market, and with an impressive hybrid package making great strides against Japanese competition, the Fusion lineup helps Ford to carry the load of the CAFE requirements with very positive results. 

On top of that, the TiVCT technology used in the 2011 Mustang's 3.7L V6 and 5.0L V8 have made these new Mustangs the most powerful standard lineup of all time, but more importantly, the Mustang is more efficient than ever.  The 305 horsepower V6 offers 31 miles per gallon while the 5.0L Mustang GT yields 26 miles per gallon when properly equipped.  With those numbers, the current Mustang has almost no negative effect on Ford's CAFE compliance, and with rumors of new EcoBoost configurations on the horizon - combining more power with even better fuel economy - we can expect to see the Ford Mustang continue in grand fashion, even as the new CAFE requirements of 2016 hit the US market.

Also, thanks to the fact that the rest of the Ford lineup is so fuel efficient without sacrificing power, the door remains open for Ford's Special Vehicle Team (SVT) to continue offering super high performance Mustangs like the GT500.  Considering the low sales volume of the GT500, SVT could essentially offer a new Cobra with 600 horsepower and no consideration for the car's fuel economy, but since Ford has made such amazing strides to offer improved fuel economy without any compromise in performance, we can expect all forms of the Ford Mustang to continue to be alive and well.

What do you think of the new CAFE standards? Voice your opinion here!



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