CAFE Overview Corporate Average Fuel Economy

Manufacturers are required to meet certain mileage requirements on the vehicles which they manufacture. Separate calculations are made for passenger cars and light-duty trucks.

The CAFE is the sales-weighted average of all model types sold.

Currently the CAFE requirements are.

Passenger Cars 27.5 Mpg
Light-duty Trucks 20.7 Mpg

Fuel Economy Labels and Fuel Economy Guide

The Gas Mileage Guide is published and distributed by DOE based on EPA's data. Manufacturers are required to label all cars and light trucks (less than 6500 pounds of gross vehicle weight rating GVWR) with the fuel economy values on a window sticker.

The fuel economy estimates are based on results of tests required by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). These tests are used to certify that vehicles meet the Federal emissions and fuel economy standards. Manufacturers test pre-production prototypes of the new vehicle models and submit the test results to EPA. . EPA re-tests about 10% of the tested vehicles to confirm manufacturer's results in EPA's lab. The vehicles are driven by a professional driver under controlled laboratory conditions, on an instrument similar to a treadmill. These procedures ensure that each vehicle is tested under identical conditions; therefore, the results can be compared with confidence.

There are two different fuel economy estimates for each vehicle in the Fuel Economy Guide, one for city driving and one for highway driving. To generate these two estimates, separate tests are used to represent typical everyday driving in a city and in a rural setting. Two kinds of engine starts are used: the cold start, which is similar to starting a car in the morning after it has been parked all night; and the hot start, similar to restarting a vehicle after it has been warmed up, driven, and stopped for a short time.

City Test
The test used to determine the city fuel economy estimate simulates an 11-mile, stop-and-go trip with an average speed of 20 miles per hour (mph). The trip takes 31 minutes and has 23 stops. About 18 percent of the time is spent idling, as in waiting at traffic lights or in rush hour traffic. The maximum speed is 56 mph. The engine is initially started after being parked overnight. Vehicles are tested at 68 F to 86 F ambient temperature.

Highway Test
The test to determine the highway fuel economy estimate represents a mixture of "non-city" driving. Segments corresponding to different kinds of rural roads and interstate highways are included. The test simulates a 10-mile trip and averages 48 mph. The maximum speed is 60 mph. The test is run with the engine warmed up and has little idling time and no stops (except at the end of the test).

NOTE: To make the numbers in the Fuel Economy Guide more useful for consumers, EPA adjusts these laboratory test results to account for the difference between controlled laboratory conditions and actual driving on the road. The laboratory fuel economy results are adjusted downward to arrive at the estimates in the Fuel Economy Guide and on the labels seen on new cars, light trucks, and vans. The city estimate is lowered by 10% and the highway estimate by 22% from the laboratory test results. Experience has proven that these adjustments make the mileage estimates in the Fuel Economy Guide correspond more closely to the actual fuel economy realized by the average driver.

Gas Guzzler Tax
The "label" calculation for combined fuel economy (not adjusted for reality) is used for determining liability for the Gas Guzzler Tax. The following Tax Schedule is used to determine the amount of the tax, which is collected by the U.S. Internal Revenue Service:

at least 22.5
No Tax
at least 21.5, but less than 22.5
at least 20.5, but less than 21.5
at least 19.5, but less than 20.5
at least 18.5, but less than 19.5
at least 17.5, but less than 18.5
at least 16.5, but less than 17.5
at least 15.5 ,but less than 16.5
at least 14.5, but less than 15.5
at least 13.5, but less than 14.5
at least 12.5, but less than 13.5
less than 12.5

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
Other Regulations & Standards
National Vehicle and Fuel Emissions Laboratory
Model Year 2000 Fuel Economy Guide

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