With the federal government ruling that 2015 fleets of cars must meet a 35.5 mpg average, automakers will have to embrace new technology at a much higher level, making innovative or luxury options standard in most new vehicles. While some experts say that current gasoline-powered engines could be improved to achieve up to 20% better fuel economy, these modifications would not be enough to raise many cars’ mpg ratings.
Cars achieving fuel economy close to the new average could see things like turbochargers, variable valve timing, and dual-clutch transmissions become standard technologies. These items would boost the fuel efficiency of a conventional engine enough to help bolster the averages of certain fleets.
The new ruling may also fuel a dramatic increase in electric engine adoption in several lines of vehicles. This could range from many cars receiving stop-start electric engines, possibly turning hybrid vehicles into the dominate vehicle type, to fully electric cars. The biggest issue with electric technology is cost. While they greatly improve efficiency, they are also more costly than the small gains made to conventional engines.
A last area where new technology could be implemented because of the new federal ruling is car design itself. Instead of focusing strictly on style or aerodynamics, car designers must now also take into consideration the possible limitations of certain technologies. Weight will also become a more notable design element, though weight-cutting materials like carbon fiber come with increased production costs.