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Examining fuel economy and carbon standards for light vehicles


  • Plotkin, Steven E.


This paper examines fuel economy and carbon standards for light vehicles (passenger cars and light trucks), discussing the rationale for standards, appropriate degrees of stringency and timing, regulatory structure, and ways to deal with "real world" fuel economy issues that may not be dealt with by the standards. There is no optimum method of establishing the stringency of a standard, but policymakers can be informed by analyses of technology cost-effectiveness from the viewpoint of different actors (e.g., society, vehicle purchasers) and of "top runners"--vehicles in the current fleet, or projections of future leading vehicles, that can serve as models for average vehicles some years later. The focus of the paper is on the US light vehicle fleet, with some discussion of applications to the European Union. A "leading edge" midsize car for the 2020 timeframe is identified, and various types of attribute-based standards are discussed. For the US, a 12-15 year target for new vehicle fleet improvement of 30-50% seems a reasonable starting point for negotiations. For 2030 or so, doubling current fuel economy is possible. In both cases, adjustments must be made in response to changing economic circumstances and government and societal priorities.

Suggested Citation

  • Plotkin, Steven E., 2009. "Examining fuel economy and carbon standards for light vehicles," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 37(10), pages 3843-3853, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:enepol:v:37:y:2009:i:10:p:3843-3853

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    1. repec:reg:ranaly:139 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Turrentine, Tom & Kurani, Kenneth S, 2007. "Car buyers and fuel economy?," Institute of Transportation Studies, Working Paper Series qt56x845v4, Institute of Transportation Studies, UC Davis.
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    1. Schmitt, William F. & Szklo, Alexandre & Schaeffer, Roberto, 2011. "Policies for improving the efficiency of the Brazilian light-duty vehicle fleet and their implications for fuel use, greenhouse gas emissions and land use," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 39(6), pages 3163-3176, June.
    2. Enang, Wisdom & Bannister, Chris, 2017. "Modelling and control of hybrid electric vehicles (A comprehensive review)," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 74(C), pages 1210-1239.
    3. Cheah, Lynette & Heywood, John, 2011. "Meeting U.S. passenger vehicle fuel economy standards in 2016 and beyond," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 39(1), pages 454-466, January.
    4. Harvey, L.D.D., 2013. "Global climate-oriented transportation scenarios," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 54(C), pages 87-103.
    5. Malik, Leeza & Tiwari, Geetam, 2017. "Assessment of interstate freight vehicle characteristics and impact of future emission and fuel economy standards on their emissions in India," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 108(C), pages 121-133.
    6. Clenci, Adrian Constantin & Iorga-Simăn, Victor & Deligant, Michael & Podevin, Pierre & Descombes, Georges & Niculescu, Rodica, 2014. "A CFD (computational fluid dynamics) study on the effects of operating an engine with low intake valve lift at idle corresponding speed," Energy, Elsevier, vol. 71(C), pages 202-217.
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    8. Celalettin Yuce & Fatih Karpat & Nurettin Yavuz & Gökhan Sendeniz, 2014. "A Case Study: Designing for Sustainability and Reliability in an Automotive Seat Structure," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 6(7), pages 1-24, July.
    9. Mahlia, T.M.I. & Tohno, S. & Tezuka, T., 2012. "History and current status of the motor vehicle energy labeling and its implementation possibilities in Malaysia," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 16(4), pages 1828-1844.
    10. Duc Luong, Nguyen, 2015. "A critical review on Energy Efficiency and Conservation policies and programs in Vietnam," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 52(C), pages 623-634.
    11. Salvo, Orlando de & Vaz de Almeida, Flávio G., 2019. "Influence of technologies on energy efficiency results of official Brazilian tests of vehicle energy consumption," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 241(C), pages 98-112.
    12. Siskos, Pelopidas & Capros, Pantelis & De Vita, Alessia, 2015. "CO2 and energy efficiency car standards in the EU in the context of a decarbonisation strategy: A model-based policy assessment," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 84(C), pages 22-34.
    13. Skeete, Jean-Paul, 2017. "Examining the role of policy design and policy interaction in EU automotive emissions performance gaps," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 104(C), pages 373-381.
    14. Sheinbaum-Pardo, Claudia & Chávez-Baeza, Carlos, 2011. "Fuel economy of new passenger cars in Mexico: Trends from 1988 to 2008 and prospects," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 39(12), pages 8153-8162.
    15. Bastin, Cristina & Szklo, Alexandre & Rosa, Luiz Pinguelli, 2010. "Diffusion of new automotive technologies for improving energy efficiency in Brazil's light vehicle fleet," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 38(7), pages 3586-3597, July.
    16. Jun, Seung-Pyo & Yoo, Hyoung Sun & Kim, Ji-Hui, 2016. "A study on the effects of the CAFE standard on consumers," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 91(C), pages 148-160.
    17. Atabani, A.E. & Badruddin, Irfan Anjum & Mekhilef, S. & Silitonga, A.S., 2011. "A review on global fuel economy standards, labels and technologies in the transportation sector," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 15(9), pages 4586-4610.


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