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A structural analysis of vehicle design responses to Corporate Average Fuel Economy policy

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  • Shiau, Ching-Shin Norman
  • Michalek, Jeremy J.
  • Hendrickson, Chris T.

Abstract

The US Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) regulations are intended to influence automaker vehicle design and pricing choices. CAFE policy has been in effect for the past three decades, and new legislation has raised standards significantly. We present a structural analysis of automaker responses to generic CAFE policies. We depart from prior CAFE analyses by focusing on vehicle design responses in long-run oligopolistic equilibrium, and we view vehicles as differentiated products, taking demand as a general function of price and product attributes. We find that under general cost, demand, and performance functions, single-product profit maximizing firm responses to CAFE standards follow a distinct pattern: firms ignore CAFE when the standard is low, treat CAFE as a vehicle design constraint for moderate standards, and violate CAFE when the standard is high. Further, the point and extent of first violation depends upon the penalty for violation, and the corresponding vehicle design is independent of further standard increases. Thus, increasing CAFE standards will eventually have no further impact on vehicle design if the penalty for violation is also not increased. We implement a case study by incorporating vehicle physics simulation, vehicle manufacturing and technology cost models, and a mixed logit demand model to examine equilibrium powertrain design and price decisions for a fixed vehicle body. Results indicate that equilibrium vehicle design is not bound by current CAFE standards, and vehicle design decisions are directly determined by market competition and consumer preferences. We find that with increased fuel economy standards, a higher violation penalty than the current stagnant penalty is needed to cause firms to increase their design fuel economy at equilibrium. However, the maximum attainable improvement can be modest even if the penalty is doubled. We also find that firms' design responses are more sensitive to variation in fuel prices than to CAFE standards, within the examined ranges.

Suggested Citation

  • Shiau, Ching-Shin Norman & Michalek, Jeremy J. & Hendrickson, Chris T., 2009. "A structural analysis of vehicle design responses to Corporate Average Fuel Economy policy," Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, Elsevier, vol. 43(9-10), pages 814-828, November.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:transa:v:43:y:2009:i:9-10:p:814-828
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    Cited by:

    1. Whistance, Jarrett & Thompson, Wyatt, 2014. "The role of CAFE standards and alternative-fuel vehicle production credits in U.S. biofuels markets," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 74(C), pages 147-157.
    2. Wells, Peter & Varma, Adarsh & Newman, Dan & Kay, Duncan & Gibson, Gena & Beevor, Jamie & Skinner, Ian, 2013. "Governmental regulation impact on producers and consumers: A longitudinal analysis of the European automotive market," Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, Elsevier, vol. 47(C), pages 28-41.
    3. Al-Alawi, Baha M. & Bradley, Thomas H., 2014. "Analysis of corporate average fuel economy regulation compliance scenarios inclusive of plug in hybrid vehicles," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 113(C), pages 1323-1337.
    4. 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.
    5. Mabit, Stefan L., 2014. "Vehicle type choice under the influence of a tax reform and rising fuel prices," Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, Elsevier, vol. 64(C), pages 32-42.
    6. 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.
    7. Rogan, Fionn & Dennehy, Emer & Daly, Hannah & Howley, Martin & Ó Gallachóir, Brian P., 2011. "Impacts of an emission based private car taxation policy - First year ex-post analysis," Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, Elsevier, vol. 45(7), pages 583-597, August.
    8. Damert, Matthias & Rudolph, Frederic, 2018. "Policy options for a decarbonisation of passenger cars in the EU: Recommendations based on a literature review," Wuppertal Papers 193, Wuppertal Institute for Climate, Environment and Energy.
    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. repec:eee:appene:v:204:y:2017:i:c:p:544-559 is not listed on IDEAS
    11. Karplus, Valerie J. & Paltsev, Sergey & Babiker, Mustafa & Reilly, John M., 2013. "Should a vehicle fuel economy standard be combined with an economy-wide greenhouse gas emissions constraint? Implications for energy and climate policy in the United States," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 36(C), pages 322-333.
    12. MacKenzie, Don & Heywood, John B., 2015. "Quantifying efficiency technology improvements in U.S. cars from 1975–2009," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 157(C), pages 918-928.
    13. repec:eee:enepol:v:109:y:2017:i:c:p:279-287 is not listed on IDEAS

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