No Automakers Meet Obama's New Fuel Economy Standard

The just-announced fuel economy policy changes demand 39 MPG for cars and 30 MPG for light trucks. A look at the data shows not a single automaker currently meets the new guidelines proposed today. Update.

Using the Model-Year 2009 Fleet Fuel Economy standards provided by the National Highway Safety Transportation Administration (NHTSA), we determined the current ratings for passenger cars and light trucks and compared them to the goal for each of the major automakers selling cars in the U.S. A few automakers, like KIA and Hyundai, report their data separately because of a different ownership arrangement. We also took a look at what barriers exist for them reaching those standards.

UPDATE: The Obama Administration contacted us to tell us the originally reported numbers of 42 MPG for cars and 27 MPG for light trucks were wrong. Instead, they're requiring an average of 39 MPG for cars and 30 MPG for light trucks. We've made the proper adjustments but even with these different numbers no one meets either requirement.

No Automakers Meet Obama's New Fuel Economy Standard

BMW


2009 Fleet Fuel Economy Rating: 27.5 MPG
Distance From 2016 Fleet Fuel Economy Rating: -11.5 MPG
2009 Light Truck Fleet Fuel Economy Rating: 23.1 MPG
Distance From 2016 Light Truck Fuel Economy Rating: -6.9 MPG
Barriers To Meeting New Fuel Economy Ratings: BMW currently offers no hybrid or electric vehicles and, as a matter of practice, has been increasing displacement not decreasing it. The use of diesel engines is a step in the right direction but they're well behind where they need to be.

No Automakers Meet Obama's New Fuel Economy Standard

Chrysler


2009 Fleet Fuel Economy Rating: 28.3 MPG
Distance From 2016 Fleet Fuel Economy Rating: -10.7 MPG
2009 Light Truck Fleet Fuel Economy Rating: 23.9 MPG
Distance From 2016 Light Truck Fuel Economy Rating: -6.1 MPG
Barriers To Meeting New Fuel Economy Ratings: Chrysler's biggest problem, in general, is the lack of appealing small cars with good fuel economy. Lacking any realistic vehicle on the horizon, the Chrysler-FIAT deal was envisioned to solve this issue. Let's see how that works out for them.

No Automakers Meet Obama's New Fuel Economy Standard

Daimler


2009 Fleet Fuel Economy Rating: 27.5 MPG
Distance From 2016 Fleet Fuel Economy Rating: -11.5 MPG
2009 Light Truck Fleet Fuel Economy Rating: 20.6 MPG
Distance From 2016 Light Truck Fuel Economy Rating: -9.4 MPG
Barriers To Meeting New Fuel Economy Ratings: Mercedes-Benz may have to reconsider its policy of bringing over G-wagens and GL-wagens if it doesn't want to pay a fine, as the light truck numbers are low. The company has hinted at a smaller, possibly electric, model to bring up the average mileage but how many electric smarts do you need to outweigh an AMG G55?

No Automakers Meet Obama's New Fuel Economy Standard

Ford


2009 Fleet Fuel Economy Rating: 31.1 MPG (excluding foreign import)
Distance From 2016 Fleet Fuel Economy Rating: -7.9 MPG
2009 Light Truck Fleet Fuel Economy Rating: 24.7 MPG
Distance From 2016 Light Truck Fuel Economy Rating: -5.3 MPG
Barriers To Meeting New Fuel Economy Ratings: Ford sells a lot of trucks. Despite fluctuations in fuel prices, the F-Series is bread + butter for the company. The addition of EcoBoost should help propel passenger vehicles to a higher overall value, and rumors of similar turbo'ed engines in the pickups should help as well.

No Automakers Meet Obama's New Fuel Economy Standard

GM


2009 Fleet Fuel Economy Rating: 31.3 MPG (excluding foreign import)
Distance From 2016 Fleet Fuel Economy Rating: -7.7 MPG
2009 Light Truck Fleet Fuel Economy Rating: 22.5 MPG
Distance From 2016 Light Truck Fuel Economy Rating: -7.5 MPG
Barriers To Meeting New Fuel Economy Ratings: Barriers? What Barriers? The Volt will save everything... right? GM could be a victim of its own success if it turns out they start selling far more Camaros than hybrids and other fuel efficient vehicles.

No Automakers Meet Obama's New Fuel Economy Standard

Honda


2009 Fleet Fuel Economy Rating: 36.5 MPG
Distance From 2016 Fleet Fuel Economy Rating: -2.5 MPG
2009 Light Truck Fleet Fuel Economy Rating: 26.2 MPG
Distance From 2016 Light Truck Fuel Economy Rating: -3.8 MPG
Barriers To Meeting New Fuel Economy Ratings: Honda typically ranks highest among brands, so they're doing pretty well. But maybe now we know why they keep delaying the NSX.

No Automakers Meet Obama's New Fuel Economy Standard

Hyundai


2009 Fleet Fuel Economy Rating: 33.2 MPG
Distance From 2016 Fleet Fuel Economy Rating: -5.8 MPG
2009 Light Truck Fleet Fuel Economy Rating: 25.7 MPG
Distance From 2016 Light Truck Fuel Economy Rating: -4.3 MPG
Barriers To Meeting New Fuel Economy Ratings: Unlike most Asian brands, Hyundai has picked up steam by moving away from greener vehicles. WIll the Genesis sedan and coupe cut into the gains made by their dinky little Korean hatches?

No Automakers Meet Obama's New Fuel Economy Standard

Kia


2009 Fleet Fuel Economy Rating: 33.7 MPG
Distance From 2016 Fleet Fuel Economy Rating: -5.3 MPG
2009 Light Truck Fleet Fuel Economy Rating: 24.4 MPG
Distance From 2016 Light Truck Fuel Economy Rating: -5.6 MPG
Barriers To Meeting New Fuel Economy Ratings: Kia has one big barrier to better fuel economy and it's the Kia Borrego. Since no one seems to want the $40K truck we don't see Kia having a hard time cutting it out of the lineup.

No Automakers Meet Obama's New Fuel Economy Standard

Mazda


2009 Fleet Fuel Economy Rating: 32.2/31.0 MPG (Import/Domestic)
Distance From 2016 Fleet Fuel Economy Rating: -6.8 MPG/8.0 MPG
2009 Light Truck Fleet Fuel Economy Rating: 26.6 MPG
Distance From 2016 Light Truck Fuel Economy Rating: -3.4 MPG
Barriers To Meeting New Fuel Economy Ratings: The only hybrid vehicle in the Mazda lineup is a rebadged Ford Escape and, so far as we know, diesel hasn't been considered an option. While the Mazda3 gets good mileage it's always placed Zoom-Zoom over glug-glug.

No Automakers Meet Obama's New Fuel Economy Standard

Mitsubishi


2009 Fleet Fuel Economy Rating: 29.5 MPG
Distance From 2016 Fleet Fuel Economy Rating: -9.5 MPG
2009 Light Truck Fleet Fuel Economy Rating: 26.1 MPG
Distance From 2016 Light Truck Fuel Economy Rating: -3.9 MPG
Barriers To Meeting New Fuel Economy Ratings: The one saving grace for Mitsubishi, as it languishes in the U.S., is the iMiev electric car. But can the company produce enough electrics and hold out long enough to make it economically feasible?

No Automakers Meet Obama's New Fuel Economy Standard

Nissan


2009 Fleet Fuel Economy Rating: 30.1/34.0 MPG (Import/Domestic)
Distance From 2016 Fleet Fuel Economy Rating: -8.9 MPG/ 5.0 MPG
2009 Light Truck Fleet Fuel Economy Rating: 23.5 MPG
Distance From 2016 Light Truck Fuel Economy Rating: -6.5 MPG
Barriers To Meeting New Fuel Economy Ratings: Nissan has built a reputation around their VQ V6 and don't seem intent on taking it out of any of their vehicles. To balance this, they'll try to use the Nissan Cube and other small cars, but they'll have to do better than the also-ran Sentra

No Automakers Meet Obama's New Fuel Economy Standard

Porsche


2009 Fleet Fuel Economy Rating: 27.0 MPG
Distance From 2016 Fleet Fuel Economy Rating: -12.0 MPG
2009 Light Truck Fleet Fuel Economy Rating: 19.3 MPG
Distance From 2016 Light Truck Fuel Economy Rating: -10.7 MPG
Barriers To Meeting New Fuel Economy Ratings: Porsche has historically been more content to pay fees than reform their ways given they're a performance brand. The profitable Cayenne, as well, presents a challenge. They could combine with VW to raise the Porsche average, but at the price of lowering VW's.

No Automakers Meet Obama's New Fuel Economy Standard

Subaru


2009 Fleet Fuel Economy Rating: 29.0 MPG
Distance From 2016 Fleet Fuel Economy Rating: -10.0 MPG
2009 Light Truck Fleet Fuel Economy Rating: 28.4 MPG
Distance From 2016 Light Truck Fuel Economy Rating: -1.6 MPG
Barriers To Meeting New Fuel Economy Ratings: Subaru builds cars disproportionately more fun than you'd expect and the popularity of vehicles like the WRX and the lack of a small, under-powered economy car is a threat to the brand's overall mileage. Could we see the return of the Justy hatchback?

No Automakers Meet Obama's New Fuel Economy Standard

Suzuki


2009 Fleet Fuel Economy Rating: 32.7 MPG
Distance From 2016 Fleet Fuel Economy Rating: -6.3 MPG
2009 Light Truck Fleet Fuel Economy Rating: 25.7 MPG
Distance From 2016 Light Truck Fuel Economy Rating: -4.3 MPG
Barriers To Meeting New Fuel Economy Ratings: The current Suzuki lineup is so random and confusing it's hard to know where they could go. With the exception of the SX4 and Grand Vitara there aren't any products with much name recognition. Just scrap the whole thing and bring us the Cappuccino.

No Automakers Meet Obama's New Fuel Economy Standard

Toyota


2009 Fleet Fuel Economy Rating: 38.1/35.9 MPG (Import/Domestic)
Distance From 2016 Fleet Fuel Economy Rating: -0.9 MPG/3.1 MPG
2009 Light Truck Fleet Fuel Economy Rating: 25.8 MPG
Distance From 2016 Light Truck Fuel Economy Rating: -4.2 MPG
Barriers To Meeting New Fuel Economy Ratings: Unless Toyota discontinues the Prius and decides to make the Tacoma V8-only, the automaker is moving in the right direction. Let's just hope this doesn't torpedo plans for a new Supra although we fear it might.

No Automakers Meet Obama's New Fuel Economy Standard

VW


2009 Fleet Fuel Economy Rating: 30.2 MPG
Distance From 2016 Fleet Fuel Economy Rating: -8.8 MPG
2009 Light Truck Fleet Fuel Economy Rating: 23.9 MPG
Distance From 2016 Light Truck Fuel Economy Rating: -6.1 MPG
Barriers To Meeting New Fuel Economy Ratings: Volkswagen's greatest environmental asset is the TDI engine. It's greatest weakness is the high price of diesel fuel and the possibility of Americans turning on their technology. The greatest barrier on the horizon is Porsche, so we can't imagine them combining.

Conclusion


Not a single automaker currently meets 2016 standards for fuel economy. In passenger cars, only Toyota and Honda, who have larger fleets of fuel-efficient cars are less than 10 MPG away from the proposed standards. This means companies will either have to radically alter their lineups, reduce the production of vehicles we actually want to drive, or invest heavily in alternative propulsion systems at a time when their capital is severely constrained. Good luck with that! Appliance vehicles, here we come!