Re: Chrysler: Increasing CAFE Could Add 5-7K to Price Tag
Higher CAFE standards will indeed result in fewer choices among the large, heavy, overpowered vehicles that are popular today. In that sense, the claim is right.
But there will be more choices among the smaller, more fuel efficient and reasonable vehicles that are demanded by cleanmpg types. Our range of choices will improve.
This is exactly what happened in the gas crunches of the late 70s and especially into the early 80s. During that period the automakers cut back dramatically on their large vehicle offerings, narrowing the huge range of V-8 choices they used to offer and "downsizing" their vehicle lines across the board. In the early 80s you had dozens of fuel efficient vehicles to choose from. Compared with those days, one of the problems we have today is that even the base models of most small cars have larger engines and lower gearing than necessary for normal driving or optimal for fuel economy.
With higher fuel economy standards, we can not only achieve, but surpass the fuel economy achieved by ordinary vehicles 25 years ago. And remember that those cars were carbureted with crude (if any) engine management computers, and had 3 speed automatics and max 5 (often 4) speed MTs. With today's advancements in safety technology, materials and engines, automobiles should be able to blow away the fuel economy and safety standards of those days while providing superior performance. And that's using today's "conventional" technology, not even counting hybrids and other advancements. It's easily achievable.
But it won't generate the $8,000 to $10,000 per vehicle profits that the Big 3 have gotten used to on large trucks. So that's where they are getting the $5-7K per vehicle figure. It's how much more they'd have to charge for small cars to make a profit they're comfortable with. Unless they can reduce their costs (healthcare!!) they are doomed.