Washington’s press corps this afternoon dutifully parroted the White House announcement that by 2025, cars must get 54.5 mpg. And we’ll put humans on Neptune.
The EPA said the new 900-page regulation will require a 5 percent gain in fuel efficiency per year, will save consumers $1.7 trillion at the pump, and will provide “net societal benefits of $420 billion,” whatever that means. These are carnival-barker numbers. “Drink our serum and you’ll be a foot taller!”
But for harder numbers, how are the automakers doing on the more immediate EPA mandate of 35.5 mpg by 2015? They’re not even close.
Take, for example, the best-selling car in America: the brand-new, totally redesigned, state-of-the-art, four-cylinder, base model 2012 Toyota Camry (255,000 units sold far this year) that will still be Toyota’s standard-bearer three years from now. Its fuel economy is just 28 mpg. That’s the average American car.
Indeed, 15 years ago, the Camry got 23 mpg, meaning that its fuel economy has improved at 1.5 percent each year. Now the high priests of the EPA are requiring that it improve 5 percent per year over the next 15 years.
And they’ll mandate magic wands to get us there.