WASHINGTONIf you thought strict new miles-per-gallon rules mandated by the federal government would sap cars of horsepower and heft, you were wrongat least so far.
A recent report by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency shows that cars were just about as powerful and heavy as ever in the 2013 model year, the first year of the federal corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) standards that double to a nominal average of 54.5 mpg in the 2025 model year.
On average, 2013 model cars and light trucks offered in the U.S. weighed 4,041 pounds, up 64 pounds from 2012 and essentially unchanged from a decade earlier. They also put out an average 230 horsepower, tying a record set by 2011 models and beating 2003 models by 31 horsepower.
And yet, average combined city/highway fuel economy for 2013 models was 24 mpgup 3 mpg from 2008reflecting the rapid adoption of technologies that squeeze more energy out of a gallon of gasoline.
The share of light vehicles with turbochargers, for instance, was nearly five times as high as in 2008 as auto makers such as Ford Motor Co. and Volkswagen A.G. have bet that customers will tolerate smaller engines if they can summon some extra thrust as needed.
This report appeared in Automotive News, a Detroit-based sister publication of Tire Business.