Why Should We Wait for 2025 for the 54.5 MPG Standard?

A recent article over on Automobile Magazine tells us that the Department of Transportation Confirms 54.5 MPG Fuel Economy Standard which will take effect in 2025. WTF?!?

It’s true that this is an improvement over the 34.1 mpg standard for the average fuel economy of new passenger vehicles for model year 2016, and definitely an improvement over the 30.5 mpg for the 2013 year, the reality is that we should be at the 2020 standard now! For example, as per this recent article in the Technology Review, the Delphi engine could boost fuel economy by half. So if we’re getting 30.5 mpg now, we could be getting 45 mpg with this new engine technology.

And Delphi is not the only company working on a variation of gasoline direct injection compression ignition (GDICI) technology and getting very good results. A project jointly funded by General Motors (GM) and Tsinghua University is also developing new gasoline direct-injection compression-ignition combustion mode.

And then there’s research into spray combustion cross-cut engines, including the DOE Advanced Combustion Engine which has posted efficiency gains of up to 40%. (See the Overview.) And research into nozzle geometry, supercritical injection, and other improvements that also contribute double digit enhancements to efficiency. We should be at the 54.5 mpg standard now. In fact, given that the Skyactiv-G 1.3 engine manufactured by Mazda and used in the Demico subcompact (which is also known as the Mazda 2) can get 70 mpg now by using a direct injection mill, a continuously variable transmission, and stop-start tech, we should be aiming for 94.5 mpg by 2025! (Heck, the forthcoming 2.0 L North American Version in the CX-5 will get 40 mpg!)

And while the focus of this research and development is primarily for small consumer vehicles, it’s a given that any improvements made will find their way into delivery vehicles as well and that your fleet will eventually get more fuel efficient, which is key in an era of constantly rising fuel costs. So any push for fuel efficiency is a good thing, and any time one is made, we should be asking, is this aggressive enough?