The National Academies

The National Academies: What You Need To Know About Energy

What You Need To Know About Energy

Effectiveness and Impact of Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) Standards (2002)

The Energy Policy and Conservation Act of 1975 established the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) program, which required automobile manufacturers to increase the average fuel economy for passenger cars to 27.5 miles per gallon (mpg) by model year 1985. As authorized by the act, the Department of Transportation set the fuel economy for the light-duty truck fleet at 20.7 mpg. In this report, the NRC assesses the impact of the current CAFE system, as well as potential impacts of modified standards. The NRC reviewed much of the technical literature and heard from many experts before conducting its own analysis, which resulted in a range of estimates of fuel economy improvements and associated costs. The report’s conclusions acknowledge the need for the federal government to ensure fuel economy standards beyond those expected to result from market forces alone and emphasize the importance of research into breakthrough technologies and the relationship between fuel economy and highway safety.

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