Survey Says…Engine Downsizing More Important Than Electrification In Meeting CAFE Targets

NOV 1 2016 BY MARK KANE 80

2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV

2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV

CALSTART’s survey of Tier 1 automotive suppliers reveals that they do not necessarily see EVs as the main force to meet 2025 Federal Light-duty Vehicle fuel economy regulations.

With that said, the majority of these suppliers likely have some self-interest at heart when answering this question, as an EV platform most likely eliminates many of the parts they are currently supplying the automakers.

Anyway, the three most popular answers to hit 2025 regulations were:

  • turbocharging and engine downsizing
  • automatic transmissions with more gears
  • start-stop systems and hybrids

Plug-in hybrids and EVs are offered as solution in the middle of the pack, while fuel cell electric vehicles seem to be orphaned by suppliers (which begs the question why some automakers have other opinions).

“When presented with a list of technologies that might be used to meet fuel-efficiency standards, suppliers picked turbocharging and engine downsizing, along with higher-speed automatic transmissions, as the most critical.

Hybrid technology was also viewed as important, along with variable valve timing, gasoline direct injection, and mass reduction. Suppliers were split on whether or not meeting the standards would ultimately require more electric vehicles than are already slated to hit the roads under state zero-emissions vehicle requirements.”

ZEV mandates that exist today in California (and some other states folling CARB’s lead) require 16% electrification* of new light-duty vehicle sales by 2025 (4% nationwide).  (*multiple ZEV credits available per EV depending on range/charging abilities lowers that actual requirement)

Tesla Model 3

Tesla Model 3

According to the CALSTART report, 29% of survey respondents expect that there will be 2% more EVs than the base requirement in 2015 to meet the fuel economy standard overall.

“Deployment of electric vehicles is required under the ZEV mandates that exist in California and various other states (requiring electrification in 15% of new light-duty vehicle sales by 2025, which equates to about 4% of new light-duty vehicle sales nationwide). 29% of respondents indicated that they would expect at least an additional 2% of electrified light-duty vehicles above the ZEV mandate requirements to be necessary to meet the 2025 targets. In comparison, 24% of survey respondents felt that there would be sufficient improvements in ICE technologies, lightweighting and hybridization technologies to meet the 2025 targets without additional electrification.

During the interview, Eaton indicated that achieving the GHG targets is dependent on the level of EV penetration. While the targets are still achievable without a large increase in the EV penetration rate, the targets could be achieved more easily if they were complimented by investments in EV charging infrastructure. BorgWarner suggested that an electrification level of 30% will be needed to meet the targets, which is even higher than the estimate presented by the EPA in the latest midterm report.”

Full report: Survey of Tier 1 automotive suppliers with respect to the costs and performance of vehicle technologies

Chevrolet Volt

Chevrolet Volt

Survey Shows Suppliers Support for Existing 2025 Federal Light-duty Vehicle Fuel Economy Regulation

Pasadena, Calif. (September 15, 2016) – Major automotive suppliers see national fuel economy standards as important for long-term planning and investment and don’t want to see them altered by policymakers, according to a first-of-its-kind industry survey commissioned by CALSTART, an automotive technology industry group.

“This survey underscores the degree to which deploying new fuel-efficient technology is already baked into companies’ businesses plans,” said John Boesel, president and CEO of CALSTART. “Companies are clearly ready to innovate and see the upside in the standards.”

CALSTART commissioned Ricardo Energy & Environment – a global environmental consultancy that specialises in the development and implementation of sustainable policy and technology across the automotive industry – to conduct the survey over the summer. The firm polled and interviewed 23 suppliers, almost all of them global Tier 1 suppliers that sell parts directly to automakers.

According to the survey:

  • 70 percent of suppliers said policymakers should not adjust the program’s goals.
  • 65 percent agreed with the decision to set new miles-per-gallon standards for 2025, with 30 percent saying they strongly agreed with the decision.
  • Among those who agreed, all but one named regulatory certainty as critical for the industry and half said the standards spark innovation.
  • 59 percent said that fuel-economy standards help spur job growth.
  • Suppliers identified a wide range of conventional and electric technology that could be used to meet the standards.
  • Three quarters agreed that setting targets beyond 2025 is also important for longterm planning.

Mihai Dorobantu, the director of technology planning and government affairs at Eaton Vehicle Group, a major automotive supplier that participated in the survey, said he appreciated CALSTART seeking insights from advanced technology suppliers.

“Eaton has cost effective technologies today that help manufacturers improve fuel efficiency and reduce carbon dioxide emissions,” he said, “We’re actively developing other fuel saving and electrification technologies for internal combustion engines and electrified propulsion, that will further improve vehicle performance today and into the future. Regulatory standards that are aimed at achieving real fuel savings are helpful for Eaton and for the industry as a whole. They create a clear path that allows for long-term investments in advanced technologies.”

When presented with a list of technologies that might be used to meet fuel-efficiency standards, suppliers picked turbocharging and engine downsizing, along with higher-speed automatic transmissions, as the most critical. Hybrid technology was also viewed as important, along with variable valve timing, gasoline direct injection, and mass reduction. Suppliers were split on whether or not meeting the standards would ultimately require more electric vehicles than are already slated to hit the roads under state zero-emissions vehicle requirements.

Earlier this summer, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Department of Transportation (DOT) and California Air Resources Board issued a technical analysis of Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) and greenhouse gas standards for light-duty cars and trucks, focusing on mileage requirements for model years 2022 to 2025. The agencies will take public comments on the analysis until September 26, and will formally propose new requirements next year.

Starting in 2008, agencies reformed fuel-economy requirements to make them footprintbased, meaning smaller vehicles have higher miles-per-gallon requirements while larger vehicles have lower ones. Suppliers emphasized that even as all vehicle types become more efficient, consumers are expected to buy more large cars, trucks and SUVs if gas prices remain low.

Overall, federal agencies project a fleet-wide fuel economy average of between 50 and 52.6 miles per gallon under test conditions for the 2025 model year. That translates to an average of 36 miles per gallon in actual on-road performance, which is about what today’s gasolinepowered Honda Fit already achieves.

source: Green Car Congress

Categories: General


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80 Comments on "Survey Says…Engine Downsizing More Important Than Electrification In Meeting CAFE Targets"

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engine downsizing *would* help, but you’ve got to convince US consumers to buy smaller cars. higher taxes on gasoline use and carbon taxes on larger cars would motivate consumers to buy smaller cars and electric cars. the problem is; what politician in the US is going to be willing to support *either* of these ideas? some, but not enough to get either initiative passed into law.

The politician that get money , or get Paid off will support these ideas.

Of course, the biggest downside with Turbocharging and downsizing is an increase in emissions and decrease in reliability.

I thought VW had proven that to us last year.

more emissions would mean higher carbon taxes, which is why I stated that you need smaller cars.

What they mean by “turbocharging and engine downsizing” is making a smaller engine with the same power that gets better gas mileage in tests but not much so in the real world, not a smaller car.

i used to own a saab 9000 turbo. it had a 4 cylinder turbocharged engine. for a car it’s size, it got pretty good gas mileage. but it was a trade off: if you wanted “performance”, that meant that you were engaging the turbo charger more often. but if you were driving like a maniac, then you probably weren’t that concerned about fuel efficiency. to an extent, it’s similar with BEVs; if you are concerned about “ludicrous” mode, then you probably aren’t that concerned about the environment. stuff isn’t “free” in this world, so if you are wasting energy, then you are probably doing something to increase emissions.

I’m getting really tried of people proposing new taxes. I’m already getting beaten to death by rising car insurance rates and car repairs.

Another thing is Tesla is technically fixing the car pollution on it’s own by building solar panels a giga factory and a few hundred thousand cars a year.

the point is, buy a smaller, more fuel efficient car that has less emissions and you can avoid the “tax”. on the other hand, if you want to assert your “freedom” by getting a big gas guzzler, then you are “free” to pay the taxes.

It’s RIGGED to keep on building ICE Cars….And/0r to put off ELECTRIFICATION for as Long as Possible.

So why not support legacy auto makers when they make EVs??

Anyone that builds EV’s Should get full support ….

As long as their EV’s don’t SUCK. And historically, they have, to keep ICE sales high.


I’d Gladly settle for an EV that is more efficient rather than super fast ! A Straight forward nice looking car with Longer range & efficiency would be the key .They’re fast enough or in most cases too fast…

BTW..I believe that to be the reason that the Bolt gets all that Range…Better Batteries with More efficient motors that don’t suck the Batteries Dry.

Because they can’t.
It’s like putting the baker to do hair styling.

Engine downsizing will only get you so far before you hit Mitsubishi Mirage level of boringness. Long term, EVs with performance better than comparable gas cars (like SparkEV and Tesla P100DL, not iMiev) are the only answer.

Is the Spark EV more peppy than its ICE counterpart?

I can’t believe I beat SparkEV to the punch. Yes it is and he is going to be very sad that he couldn’t tell you…

SparkEV is not only quicker than SparkGas, but it’s quicker than any car under $20K while only costing $16K post subsidy in CA.

Unfortunately down sizing engines is just another ICE fraud…
While downsized engines and diesels in general can perform good in a testing enviorment they are both foul poluting POS in real world driving…
Other reports say legacy auto will have to increase engine sizes to meet the EUs real world emissions testing…

“In the U.S., this problem has manifested in widespread consumer grumbling about the real-world fuel economy of Ford’s turbocharged EcoBoost engines, which range in size from a 1.0-liter inline-3 to a 3.5-liter V-6.

Hence the oft-quoted phrase, “You can have Eco, or you can have Boost, but you can’t have both.””

The reality is electrification of the auto is the only cleaner emissions solition…

Yep. It’s a pig in a poke, as the saying goes.

This is very true, especially the more time you spend accelerating. When you put the pedal down, an eco-boost V6 gets performance near a V8, but at V8 MPG numbers. With a light pedal, it gets V6 performance, with V6 MPG.

Every turbo and supercharged car I’ve ever owned has been exactly like that. There is no free performance. All you gain over a larger displacement engine is the choice between a performance car OR an economical car each time you push the gas pedal.

The benefit is that you essentially get to choose between V6 power and MPG and V8 power and MPG every time you drive it. It is like having two engine choices in 1 car every time you drive it.

Put an electric engine there.
You will get V8 with V2 MPG 😛

I wonder if EVs are considered as grid-connected, and using the typical grid supplies (x% coal, y% natural gas, etc).

I can’t help thinking how solar powered EVs would affect the rating.

I don’t think they are, but they are still consistently cleaner. As I think Yogurt said, once you put a little boost into it, a sub-28mpg rating is beat by an EV using all-coal. And few places even do that, these days.

Agreed but this point is lost on idiots who just want to shout you down.

They need to open the door to the Long Electric Range Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicle or PHEVLERs. These are cars and trucks and buses that have an electric range of double the average annual daily range. These vehicles will use 90% electric energy and 10% liquid fuel a year with no range anxiety or high power charging.

/Very respectfully/, I disagree. The total cost of ownership on all-electric buses is proving itself even in smaller cities like Duluth and St. Cloud, MN. The combustion engine is a lot of unnecessary maintenance costs for a city. Besides, even if you can reduce emissions by 90%, why stop there?

Given that we’re currently already at 10% ethanol in gasoline, have EREVs with 93% electric and you can just use ethanol. And if you just use ethanol, you can have ethanol-tuned engines.
Get to 95% or 96% and you could probably have more sustainable ethanol production.
And if you’re really running cars on ethanol it’d give a better infrastructure to provide ethanol as a fuel for heating BEVs in cold climates.

Vexar said:

“The total cost of ownership on all-electric buses is proving itself even in smaller cities like Duluth and St. Cloud, MN.”

Indeed! The spreading switch to BEVs for city buses is one of the quiet victories of the EV revolution. It deserves more attention.

No disrespect to Dr. Andrew Frank, if that is the Andrew Frank who built the first PHEV… and coined that term!

+1 to Dr. Frank!


I wonder what automotive suppliers were polled? Since the drivetrain is done by the carmakers, most suppliers supply systems which have very little to do with fuel economy (steering, suspension, brakes…)

Carmakers don’t build anything. They take all the parts from suppliers and put it together. This goes for the ICE too.

The only thing they still do theirself is the bodywork.

This is incorrect. Many OEMs still cast and machine their own blocks and cylinder heads. Design and build their own engines and transmissions and even design and build their own battery packs and electric motors.

Indeed. GM has factories that build nothing but engines for their gasmobiles, and I think also other factories that specialize in automotive parts and sub-assemblies.

And the design for most of the specialty parts which are subcontracted comes from the auto maker, not from the parts maker.

Yes, EV manufacturers still build their battery packs and electric motors.
The ICE manufacturers who build their engines by themself are AMG, Ferrari and Co. And they have to do it because they can’t find anyone stupid enough to do it.

The automitive industry works because of large series production. Otherwise, a regular VW Golf would have to cost >500k.

From rise of the Tesla I’ve heard that they do produce gearboxes. Maybe some of the downsizing technologies are R&D at suppliers?

I’m guessing the turbo manufacturers and transmission also

Turbo-charging and downsizing will absolutely help them meet CAFE numbers. But not for the best reasons.

1) ICE vehicles will still outsell EV’s by a huge margin. So even a modest MPG gain across a massively larger number of vehicles will have more impact on CAFE fleet numbers than EV sales.

2) Turbo engines only burn fuel like crazy when you are deep into the pedal. With a moderate pedal (like in the EPA test cycle) they return good MPG. There are no WOT runs in the EPA test, so smaller turbo engines do much better on the test than lead-foot drivers get in real life.

Down sizing helps them meet CAFE but they also polute a whole lot more when stepping on the pedal…
They actualy spray unburnt gas in the cylinders to cool them…

Yup. They play into the EPA tests by performing the best under the EPA test conditions.

Hyper-mile a turbo car, and you can beat EPA test numbers just like any other car.

Drive it like you stole it, and it makes a mockery of the EPA test numbers. With V8-like power under WOT, comes V8-like pollution.

So then the argument becomes, are we better off with more smaller sized engines that pollute less under normal driving, and only pollute like a V8 under full throttle? Or are we better off with everybody driving around V8’s which pollute like a V8 all the time, like in the 1950’s?

It is certainly better to have an EV. But the numbers don’t lie. 4-6% market penetration by 2025 is sadly accurate. So we have make choices between 2 bad choices for ICE cars that will continue to be sold whether we like it or not.

The smaller turbos are still an improvement over larger displacement engines. Even if they pollute the same as a larger displacement engine when they are being driven in a way to get the power like a larger displacement engine.

The real problem with the down sized engines is not that the gas mileage goes down when you step on the pedal its that the emissions goes way up…

Of course the drivers will only notice the mileage and not that the CO2 sky rocketed…

Have the current gas tax, (state and fed) on PHEVs and PHEVLRs, reduced to the given percent of EV miles they actually drive. Drive 90% electric, get 90% off your gas tax. The other 10% (non EV) miles of your Chevy Volt, BMW I 3 Rex, will get a decent discount on the little gas they do actually purchase. A 60%/40% split is the cutoff for the EV/ICE tax rebate. Drive 41% or more of your miles in Ice mode, and you don’t qualify to get the tax savings break. Some thing along these lines will bring the PHEVERs into the mainstream as Toyota and Ford have caved into the current weak (low mile EV range) PHEV system.

I question the word “downsizing”, do we absolutely know for sure folks understand the intended definition was ENGINE downsizing vs vehicle downsizing? I’m also surprised Joe Q Public even knows what a ISG, which ranked 6th, is…

This isn’t a survey of John Q. Public, nor Joe Average. Read the article again. It’s a survey of automotive suppliers.

Exactly. This is a very slanted/myopic poll.

Don’t waste your time on that “study”

How stupid to ask suppliers…


It’s like asking fast food chains to rate how important eating organic food is.

Of course they’re going to say it’s not that important! Their future depends on it…

The CAFE targets are a piece of cake for them to meet with existing ICE tech plus a few hybrids. So the most cost effective way for them to meet the targets is to make the engine smaller and get the incremental improvement that way.

Tesla is the only company that wants to make a viable stand alone commercial venture out of EVs. The others only do it because they have to.

Piece of cake those are not.

That’s why they are so into future. Car OEMs knew they needed a lot of preparations to meet them and asked for time to make them.

What will be interesting is how much EU & CAFE standards differ and who will have more stringent ones.

Also from bright news. EU want to ditch NEDC, for something more realistic.

Unfortunately a survey is not based on actual real world facts, as is just a collection (polling) of opinions.

Reference from the article, the key word being ‘might’:
“When presented with a list of technologies that might be used to meet fuel-efficiency standards”

Sad really, … as NO engineering effort applied to this survey and any monkey at a keyboard could answer.
Let’s see what questions/selections we should added to the next survey-monkey questionnaire?


Really, the only value this survey has is in the field of psychology, not EV tech. It confirms the psychological trait of people expecting current trends to continue indefinitely into the future.

The opposite is actually true.

Since those suppliers actually build the damn cars (apart from engines all the parts come from them, right?), whatever they think is needed is what they produce or will produce, and thus that is what will end up in the cars.

Think about that survey as 99% accurate menu from which car OEMs will pick solution to the CAFE requirements.

Downsizing is enough? No then have our 10-speed automatic gearbox! Still not enough. Wait we have some more parts to sell to You.


Suppliers will only manufacture what is specified by engineers and designers.

If the case a supplier is engineering and manufacturing their own designs … these may not be the supplier an electric aufo manufacture will use.

eg: a Model-T owner would not go to a blacksmith to get a supply of new tires.

eg: a supplier of door handles likely doesn’t care if an auto manufacture will use them on an electric, or fossil driven vehicle.

The survey by focusing on supplier got a response that they believe they will be doing the same type of business.

przemo_li said:

“Think about that survey as 99% accurate menu from which car OEMs will pick solution to the CAFE requirements.”

In 2025? Good grief, I hope not! If sustained exponential growth of EV sales starts next year (actually, it may have already started, perhaps a year ago, in Europe and China), then by 2025, PEVs (Plug-in EVs) are going to be a significant, and swiftly growing, segment of the new car market. And by then, everybody except diehard Big Oil supporters and “coal rollers” will have realized that gasmobiles are swiftly headed for extinction.

So, automotive suppliers think that smaller and/or more efficient gas/diesel motors will be the main drivers of reduced pollution, over the next 9 years? That is hardly a surprise, and I don’t even think we need to invoke that famous saying by Upton Sinclair:

“It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it!”

No, we only need to step outside our EV advocacy for a moment, and think about how the average person sees the near-term future of automobiles. Note that EV penetration of the new car market is only about 1-2%, and until very recently was stuck below 1% for years.

I don’t think the average person understands just how rapidly new tech replaces existing tech, during a disruptive tech revolution. People simply are not used to sustained exponential growth in a market.

They could bring back freewheeling. I wonder if they could make a case for that with autonomy. Of course that only works for gas engines, as they don’t have regenerative braking.

My opinion is 48v systems will be king for the next 10 years towards meeting cafe.

I thought 48v was just a matter of preference.

Get 16v car, switch electronics without touching ANY ICE related stuff and voila. You have 48v system.

16v is mainly for legacy reasons and sheer inertia.

So 48v stands for … ?

The obvious benefit is electric turbocharging which allows for greater efficiency. But this article mentions some other issues:

Automotive suppliers are the first who get hit by the EV revolution. OEM can sell EVs, they just buy the motor, ECU and battery from other suppliers than those who can do engines, exaust, gearboxes and other stuff.

So good luck relying on that survey. U will need it badly.

Engine downsizing rather than electrification? yea right… didn’t we recently find out that wasn’t working for manufacturers and they have to build bigger engines because the small ones just didn’t perform in real world conditions?

Automotive suppliers saying that is laughable and has no credibility. Kinda like what OPEC said about 94% of cars being fossils in 2050. Yea ok.

Indeed, I’m tempted to suggest that will work every bit as well as switching to “clean diesel”. /snark

By 2025 Tesla alone will be making 4 percent of all cars for sale. So CAFE EV levels will certainly be higher.

Turbocharging only takes you so far, and you can only downsize so far before it becomes useless.

After all, how many turbocharged 49cc mopeds do you see on the road?

Not enough! I envision some hipster in expensive shoes and heavy frame glasses riding a metro-elite moped, then realizing he’s running late for his master colon cleanse, kicks his wheels into TURBO MODE like Knight Rider, and blasts the street clean with fire and noise, all up on his rear wheel only.

Someone, please, build a turbocharged moped. No. Overbuild it. ICE vehicles need a legacy of death throe failures. This would be legendary.

Given that most of the supply base is tied to the traditional ICE design, they can only HOPE that efficiencies will come through “their” technology.

Engine downsizing and turbocharging are the immediate fix, but incremental efficiency improvements to the ICE are nothing compared to efficiency improvements achieved when you add a battery, a plug, and a large electric motor.

The poll is wishful thinking and only valid for a very near-term outlook on the industry.

If strongman Trump wins CAFE standards will be eliminated and pollution will win.

Smaller engines apparently have to get bigger to meet real world emission standards – not the phony lab standards

I personally think ice and other oil powered cars are right were Steam Locomotives were in the 1950’s and 1940’s. Such as by the 1940’s the builders of steam locomotives had pretty much used up all the tech they could to make steam locomotive as powerful as it could get.

In the 1960’s a mussel car got 9 miles pure gallon and had to have a court of oil at every fill up at the gas station.

But now a modern mussel car can go 30 miles a gallon and have more hoarse power then the 1960’s car. But still have a ton more power.

Huh, I didn’t know shellfish could drive with a sore throat.

Lol…English is probably Ocean’s second language.

Or maybe he’s using speech recognition?

@Ocean Railroader:

If you don’t mind some Grammar Nazi help with your English (I know that some people don’t like to be corrected):

That should be:

“muscle car”
“quart of oil”

The problem is clearly the target itself. We have had the tech, in commercialised form, for 100 MPGe efficiency since 2010, and the authorities set a target of 55 for 2025? Who is it they are protecting? Industry interests, or the public?

It’s a real shame. Luckily for me, I’m not the one who has to pick up the bill. Heck, I don’t even have kids.

When will ANYONE realize what the cafe standards are doing. There are few sectors in the economy worth anything in the world and the automotive is one of them.
New and used auto sales, Repair and parts, financial, detaling and aftermarket body and paint, tow trucks, road construction and repair, trucking and delivery oil and gas, and Engineering and modeling. All of those things that i have listed could have serious consequences due to cafe standards there are so many jobs at risk for a giant conglomerate green lie for all of you to give up old and cheap cars and to destroy old buisnesses to try and make there friends in the green industry rich. Open your eyes stop looking through the government straw and see the big picture