Vehicle electrification has been largely driven by regulations, rather than economics. And until the script is flipped, “the demise of the internal combustion engine has been greatly exaggerated,” according to an automotive expert.
The timelines for electrification don’t add up for Brian Daugherty, chief technology officer at the Motor & Equipment Manufacturers Association (MEMA), an umbrella organization that represents companies that manufacture motor vehicle components and systems for both the original equipment and aftermarket sectors.
That’s because it doesn’t make economic sense for people to buy vehicles; automakers are putting electric vehicles out there because governments are pushing them to or because of incentives.
In terms of regulations, there are the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards which regulate how far our vehicles must travel on a gallon of fuel. Then there’s the Safer Affordable Fuel-Efficient (SAFE) Vehicles Rule which has been proposed to amend existing CAFE emissions standards.
And there are also the available “advanced technology multipliers” available to automakers when developing electric vehicles, Daugherty explained during the recent Mobility Innovation Conference, hosted by the Automotive Aftermarket Suppliers Association (AASA). MEMA is the parent organization of AASA. Though originally planned to be phased out, they have been revived in the U.S. under the Joe Biden administration through model year 2025.
“What this allows an OEM to do is that they sell one battery electric vehicle that, say, has 120 miles per gallon, or EMPG. They can put that into their fleet’s average fuel economy numbers twice — that’s what that ‘two times’ multiplier does,” Daugherty said. “So you essentially have one real battery electric vehicle that gets great mileage and then you have one that doesn’t.”
Regulations seem to be the only way to get people to buy electric vehicles, he added. “Although significant progress has been made, batteries and fuel cells, unfortunately, are still too expensive,” Daugherty said.