GM marks FFV milestone; CAF standards increased

By | May 01, 2006
On the heels of General Motors' (GM) announcement that its 500,000th flexible fuel vehicle (FFV) had rolled off the production line at its Janesville, Wis., assembly plant, the U.S. Department of Transportation unveiled rules tightening the nation average fuel economy requirements.

Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta announced March 29 new fuel economy standards that will save 10.7 billion gallons of fuel throughout the life of the vehicles it affects. The move marks the most significant changes to the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) system in 30 years. For the first time, the CAFE standards will cover the largest sport utility vehicles (SUV) on the road, such as the Hummer H2 or Chevrolet Suburban.

Automakers must currently meet an average of 21.6 miles per gallon (mpg) for their 2006 model light-duty trucks. That average will rise to 22.2 mpg for 2007 vehicles before requiring a fleet-wide average of 24 mpg by 2011.

Automakers may receive a credit up to 1.2 miles per gallon toward satisfying the CAFE requirements by producing FFVs that meet specific energy efficiency and minimum driving range requirements. This allows them to raise their overall fleet fuel economy performance.

GM produces the Tahoe, Suburban, GMC Yukon, Yukon XL, Denali and Yukon XL Denali at the Janesville plant. Since 2002, the facility has produced 500,000 FFV-capable vehicles with 5.3-liter, eight-cylinder engines. FFVs are expected to make up as much as 70 percent of the production volume at the facility.

"I commend the [United Auto Workers/GM] workforce and General Motors' contribution to and support of alternative fuel sources," said Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle. "Ethanol is clean, renewable and reduces energy use. It helps Wisconsin farmers, and it helps energy security by reducing the demand for petroleum."

Earlier this year, GM recently launched its "Live Green, Go Yellow" campaign, which features ethanol-powered vehicles. The company currently produces nine E85-capable vehicles.