The new Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards pose problems for automotive groups that aren't selling millions of cars of all shapes and sizes in this country. Take Daimler, for example. Most of the cars they sell in this country right now are C and E-class sedans with average fuel economy ratings somewhere in the 20s – and that's not enough.
Automotive News reported that Daimler is trying to get the EPA to grant its cars credits for fuel-saving devices that don't necessarily make much of an impact in the agency's fuel economy tests. That would include obvious things such as stop-start and not-so-obvious tech as cooled front seats.
Daimler's reasoning is that features that reduce energy usage in any shape or form should be counted towards meeting CAFE standards instead of it having to pay a penalty for not reaching them. On cars like the new 2014 S-Class that are laden with cooled seats and more LED lights than you can shake a fine at, it makes up for the fact Daimler doesn't shift enough small cars yet to offset the burden of its big, powerful cars.
Will it work? Daimler hopes so, because it's about 3 mpg off of its 33.1 mpg target for the year with its current fleet. Even if there are more small diesel models, CLA derivatives and if Smart sales go bonkers with the upcoming redesign and four-seat forfour, the company still needs every advantage possible.
Other firms like Jaguar Land Rover and Mazda are in a similar situation, with not having a parent company to promote plug-ins or EVs to balance out mainstream cars that don't meet the CAFE target.
It's understandable to be a bit cynical about believing LEDs and double-glazed windows should count as a way to meet the efficiency standards, but every amount of fuel-saving tech should be factored in even if it isn't necessarily reflected in what's probably an outdated fuel economy testing system.
But for the record, Mercedes-Benz, we'd rather have cooled seats and LEDs than stop-start.