Last year the Corporate Average Fuel Economy – or CAFE – fines (levied for ‘transgressions’ in the 2007 model year) totalled more than $37 million for six carmakers. VW forked out $4.5 million, Porsche and Maserati paid $1.2 million, while Ferrari coughed up $1.1 million.
Merc’s bust was the second largest CAFE fine on record, being narrowly beaten by the $30.3 million the company had to pay in 2007 for vehicles sold in 2006.
While the CAFE economy standards hit luxury carmakers hard, other importers like Honda are believed to be sitting on a healthy stack of credits as they already beat the mileage targets.
However unpopular the fines are, the CAFE system is reckoned to be a useful force in moving the industry in a ‘greener’ direction – with the 35mpg average standard required by 2020 pushing even luxury makers towards hybrid and electric vehicles.