March 12, 2002
NHTSA Issues Report on Dual-Fuel
Vehicle Economy, Proposes Extension Of Program to Model Year 2008
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) today released a
proposal on the implementation of the Alternative Motor Fuels Act of 1988 (AMFA),
which encourages the development and use of methanol, ethanol and natural
gas, and promotes the production of alternative fuel vehicles. NHTSA also
proposed extending the program through Model Year 2008.
AMFA provides special procedures for calculating the fuel economy of
?dual-fueled? vehicles for Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) compliance
purposes, which substantially increase the calculated fuel economy values
for these vehicles, providing a production incentive for manufacturers. The
Act directed NHTSA (in consultation with the U.S. Environmental Protection
Agency (EPA) and Department of Energy (DOE)) to evaluate the dual-fueled
vehicle incentive program and provide a report to Congress with a
preliminary conclusion on whether to extend the program beyond the 2004
The report concludes that the AMFA CAFE credit program has been successful
in stimulating a significant increase in the availability of alternative
fuel vehicles, with well over a million of these vehicles ? primarily
flexible fuel vehicles that can run on gasoline and on a blend of 85%
ethanol and 15% gasoline (E85) ? currently on the road. However, due to the
lagging development of the alternative fuel infrastructure and the cost of
E85, the vast majority of dual-fuel vehicles rarely operate on alternative
?Even if relatively few of these vehicles are currently being operated on
E85, having a fleet of vehicles that can be operated on non-petroleum fuels
is still valuable because it contributes to domestic energy security,
encourages an increase in the number of E85 refueling sites, and provides
consumers an alternative if there are gas shortages or gas prices increase
significantly,? said Dr. Jeffrey W. Runge, NHTSA Administrator.
Given the mixed results of the program to date, the report concludes that it
would be prudent for federal agencies, Congress, industry, and other
interested stakeholders to identify additional programs and authorities that
could contribute to expanding the infrastructure and achieving greater use
of alternative fuels in dual-fuel vehicles that receive the CAFE credit.
In a second action, NHTSA issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM)
proposing to extend the availability of the CAFE credit incentive for
dual-fueled vehicles for four years, through the end of the 2008 model year.
The Act specifies that a decision on extending the program for four years
must be made at this time.
NHTSA gave these reasons for its proposed four-year extension of the CAFE
The vehicles affected by the program can operate on a blend of 85 percent
ethanol, a domestic fuel, whose increased use can decrease our reliance on
It would give Congress, other executive branch agencies, regional
authorities, and the private sector ample time to identify, adopt and
implement efforts to enhance the alternative fuel infrastructure.
Vehicle manufacturers would not likely maintain their current level of
efforts to produce alternative fuel vehicles in the absence of the incentive
program and would decrease the potential energy security benefit of having a
fleet of vehicles that can operate on alternative fuels.
Energy benefits will only be realized through the extension of the incentive
policy if other incentives, programs, or market conditions stimulate the
production, distribution, and use of alternative fuels over the next four
Comments on the NPRM will be accepted for 60 days from the date of
publication in the Federal Register. Submit comments in writing to: Docket
Management, Room PL-401, 400 Seventh Street, S.W., Washington, DC, 20590.
Alternatively, submit comments electronically by logging onto the Docket
Management System website at http://dms.dot.gov/. Click on "Help &
Information" or "Help/Info" to view instructions for filing. Regardless of
the method used, those who comment should mention Docket No.
NHTSA-2001-10774, Notice 2.