Daimler asks EPA to raise mpg ratings by recognizing off-cycle credits

Article by Anita Panait, on November 4, 2013

Daimler has filed a regulatory petition seeking to get better treatment under new fuel economy standards in the United States for its start-stop technology and other fuel-saving features. Daimler’s petition is a request for "off cycle" credits, which were included to the fuel economy program of the US Environmental Protection Agency that recognize features that do not show up on its standard fuel economy test cycle.

The program, which allows many features to qualify like grille shutters that open and close to improve aerodynamics, is crucial for Mercedes in its plan to squeeze every last mile per gallon out of the off-cycle credits.

In the past, Daimler was satisfied with paying fines to sidestep fuel economy mandates rather than meeting the efficiency goals. It was something that Daimler has to pay for Mercedes to do business with core customers who want big, powerful engines but were less concerned about saving money on fuel. Daimler paid 27 such fines to the US government from the 1985 to 2011 model years, amounting to $349 million.

On the other hand, other carmakers combined paid a $495 million over that period. However, carmakers can no longer pay fines to comply under the new standards. Because of that, Mercedes is taking steps to improve fuel economy, like selling lighter cars with smaller engines and offering more efficient diesel, hybrid and electric powertrains.

William Craven, general manager of regulatory affairs at Daimler, told Automotive News that Mercedes will do what it takes to comply with the rules, including filing petitions. In its petition, Mercedes claims that it should get extra fuel economy credits since its start-stop system -- which automatically cuts off the engine when the driver comes to a stop at a red light or in traffic -- saves more fuel than EPA thought it would.

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