DETROIT -- A proposal to increase fuel economy standards drastically will compel automakers to tweak conventional gasoline engines, using such technologies as turbochargers and direct injection, a panel on public policy said at the Automotive News World Congress.
The U.S. auto industry is likely to spend heavily to develop gasoline-saving technologies to meet increasingly stringent fuel-efficiency rules proposed for the 2025 model year. That could in turn help spur job growth and boost the economy.
"The internal combustion engine has a lot more in it," said Roland Hwang, transportation program director for the Natural Resources Defense Council, an environmental group. "It's an incremental pathway." Hwang's group estimates the U.S. auto industry could generate an additional $300 billion in revenue by meeting the new target.
The new corporate average fuel economy rules, which will be finalized this summer, nearly double today's requirements to 54.5 mpg by the 2025 model year.
Kent Niederhofer, president of Ricardo Inc., a technical consulting firm, said automakers must improve fuel economy an average of 4.7 percent annually to meet that target, "which is a daunting task to say the least."
The proposed rules got the backing of 13 automakers last July. But Volkswagen AG and Daimler AG refused to endorse the proposal because it includes no new incentives for diesel cars.
Mitch Bainwol, CEO of the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, an auto industry trade group that represents 12 automakers, including the Detroit 3, downplayed the German makers' opposition to the rules: "We're arguing about margins now. Fundamentally, we're together."