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Toyota Pledges to Top U.S. Push to Double Fuel Economy by 2025

Toyota Pledges to Top U.S. Push to Double Fuel Economy by 2025
The Toyota Motor Corp. NS4 plug-in hybrid concept vehicle is unveiled during the 2012 North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in Detroit, Michigan, on Jan. 10, 2012. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

Toyota Motor Corp., the world’s biggest seller of hybrid-electric vehicles, vowed to surpass U.S. rules intended to double fuel economy and reduce carbon emissions.

Automakers agreed in 2011 to a plan by President Barack Obama targeting an industrywide increase in Corporate Average Fuel Economy, or CAFE, to 54.5 miles per gallon of gasoline by 2025. Increased sales of hybrids and other alternative-powered autos will help Toyota comply with that rule, said Bob Carter, the automaker’s U.S. senior vice president.

“The 2015 to 2025 CAFE regulations will require automakers to significantly reduce emissions and increase fuel economy across their fleet of vehicles,” Carter said in prepared remarks at Deutsche Bank AG’s auto industry conference in Detroit yesterday. “That won’t be easy, but at Toyota we plan to exceed these new standards.”

The U.S. efficiency push has brought dozens of new hybrids, plug-in cars, electric vehicles and models powered by fuel-saving gasoline engines to the market in the past three years.

Sales of vehicles powered partially or entirely by electricity totaled at least 578,000, up more than 100,000 from 2012. They accounted for about 3.7 percent of new autos sold in the U.S., based on data compiled by Bloomberg and estimates from Autodata Corp.

Pole Position

The 54.5 CAFE goal isn’t equivalent to window sticker-labels intended to show actual fuel economy for new cars and trucks. The window-sticker average for all autos sold in the U.S. last year rose 1 mpg to an all-time high of 24.8 mpg, based on data compiled by University of Michigan researchers Michael Sivak and Brandon Schoettle. On a U.S. CAFE basis, the average was 30 mpg in 2013, also the best ever, Sivak said last week.

Toyota will release 15 new or revamped hybrids worldwide between August 2013 and 2015 and a fuel-cell sedan next year to lift efficiency, Carter said. The company said yesterday it has delivered more than 6 million hybrids globally since 1997.

“With our wide-ranging lineups and lead in hybrid vehicles, we think we are in the pole position on CAFE,” he said.

Honda Motor Co. officials told U.S. and California regulators this week at the Detroit show that they can achieve the 2025 mandate primarily with improvements in internal-combustion engines. The approach is aimed at California, which also requires automakers to sell zero-emission vehicles including plug-in electrics and fuel cell-powered cars.

Consumer Response

“A lot of people think we can get there mostly with advanced ICEs,” Robert Bienenfeld, U.S. senior manager of environmental and energy strategy for Tokyo-based Honda, said in an interview. “A lot depends on consumer response. Inexpensive gasoline is going to be challenging.”

Toyota rose 0.5 percent to 6,268 yen as of 9:14 a.m. in Tokyo trading, trimming the shares’ decline this year to 2.4 percent. The carmaker’s U.S. sales unit is based in Torrance, California.

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