The federal regulation of fuel economy began back in 1975 when the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) law was put into place. Some changes have been made to this law since its inception but in general the standards have stayed in one place. That’s all about to change. Soon all will be required to undergo a transformation and I think we will all be better off because of it.

What exactly do the changes entail? Beginning this year with 2011 models, cars will be required to improve from the current 27.5 mpg requirement to 37.8 mpg and trucks will have to improve from 23.5 mpg to 28.8 mpg. That is a 37% and 23% increase for each respective category and car companies have until 2016 to meet the requirements.

Seems like a big jump doesn’t it? Well there are a few factors which make these changes less drastic than they first appear. For starters, it must be pointed out that the fuel economy ratings are based on old city and highway tests. It is also important to consider that automakers have already been taking measures to exceed the current regulations. In 2009 for example the average fuel economy for cars was 32.5 mpg, a full 5 mpg above the standard, while trucks averaged 24.5 mpg which is 1 mpg above the standard. By achieving these numbers, automakers are given surplus credits to apply to future increases which will ease the burden of the stiffer requirements.

Another factor worth noting is that the federal regulations use raw numbers, while the numbers you see on vehicle stickers are obtained by taking raw numbers, massaging them, and incorporating other tests for a lower and more accurate fuel economy rating. So when you see a vehicle like a Fort Myers used Forester that earns 20/27 mpg city/highway, you must remember that those numbers are not the “raw” CAFE ratings.

A final point to consider is that in order to meet the new standards car companies will average the fuel economies of their entire fleet. This means that cars with extremely high fuel economies can make up for cars that may require more gas.

With all of the aforementioned facts, car companies should have no trouble meeting the new federal regulations and we can all look forward to a cleaner environment! Look for these changes to begin taking place soon at your Ft. Myers car dealer. But until then, stop in and talk to the folks at O’Brien Ft. Myers Subaru to learn more about what Subaru is doing to meet the CAFE requirements.