CAFE Standards and Tires

While Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards have been in place since 1975, there’s been a push by the government in recent years to increase them rapidly in the next 5 years, 10 years, and beyond. Automakers are in a race to meet the aggressive standard set for 2025 — an almost unimaginable 54.5 mpg. The regulation for 2016 model-year vehicles is 35.5 mpg. To meet the increasingly lofty new fuel economy rules, automakers have turned more and more to reducing the impact that tires have on a vehicle’s weight.

Run-Flat Tires

To reduce overall vehicle weight, some automakers have equipped their vehicles with run-flat tires instead of conventional tires. This reduces vehicle weight by eliminating the need for a spare tire. Different tire manufacturers have different proprietary run-flat technologies. Most run-flat tires have reinforced sidewalls that can support the vehicle’s weight for around 50 miles at 55 mph after a puncture. This allows the driver to reach a safe place to call for help or have the tire inspected by a professional.

Low Rolling Resistance Tires

Low rolling resistance tires improve fuel economy by reducing the amount of fuel needed to move the vehicle forward. The Alternative Fuels Data Center, a part of the U.S. Department of Energy, estimates that tires’ rolling resistance takes up 5%–15% of a passenger car’s fuel economy. So, for every $1 you spend on gas, anywhere from 5–15 cents of that money is going toward overcoming rolling resistance. Many tire manufacturers make tires with lower rolling resistance, and the trend is on the rise.

What would you do with the money you’d save on gas if your car got 54.5 mpg? Let us know in the comments.