Last week at the National Journal Policy Summit (hosted in conjunction with the Washington Auto Show), some of today’s top automotive minds discussed ways to bring affordable mobility to consumers, all while ensuring upcoming 2025 CAFE standards are met. It became clear from the conversation that the complex web of factors that automakers, policymakers and consumers must navigate is a windy road—one that requires a GPS all its own.
The impending 2025 CAFE standards are nothing short of ambitious, according to Honda’s senior manager of environment and energy strategy, Robert Bienenfeld. At this time, automakers will need to produce vehicles with 54.5 MPG, while creating lower emissions and superior performance. This has left many OEMS searching for solutions to the new age math problem:
Fuel efficiency + performance + low emissions + infrastructure = A vehicle consumers want to drive and can afford
Not to mention the range of options is endless—electric, hybrid, clean diesel, CNG, hydrogen, biofuels. These words swirled around the Cannon House Office Building like leaves in a storm, falling onto the ears of everyone anxiously awaiting an “Aha!” moment.
Amid these factors are smart minds in both the public and private sector looking at new ways to solve the automotive equation. In fact, we’re already leaps and bounds ahead of where we were not too long ago. According to Gina McCarthy, assistant administrator for the Office of Air and Radiation (OAR) at the EPA, 12 billion tanks of oil will be saved between 2012-2025 with regulations already in place. Additionally, in 2012, there were six times more vehicles with 30 MPG or better and twice as many hybrid and clean diesel vehicles on the road.
To solve this equation, it will take a united effort from both policymakers and OEMs. Ultimately, it comes down to creating a competitive environment where technology innovation is rewarded. Mr. Bienenfeld at Honda said it best: “We need to talk about the goal, not the technology.” What he meant was that once we have a standard objective in place (e.g. 2025 CAFE), all options that meet that goal should be considered equally, leaving the final decision to consumer preference and marketplace demands.
In the end, may the best vehicle win.
To watch the full National Journal Policy Summit, visit this website: http://www.nationaljournal.com/events/affordable-mobility-a-roadmap-to-energy-efficiency
*Meghann attended the Washington Auto Show on behalf of Edelman client, Robert Bosch LLC