The EPA was recently put in charge of regulating emissions from cars by the U.S. congress and right now they want a shift in focus, Wards Auto reports. Speaking at a recent press conference, EPA official Margo Oge said there must be “an end to the horsepower arms race among auto makers and replace it with another different kind of a race, a race to produce the most affordable and desirable, low carbon-vehicle each year.”
The carmakers are trying but at the same time they’re sending mixed messages. Take GM for example. At the recent Detroit Auto Show it displayed the new Cadillac Provoq electric concept, and next to this was the 500+hp CTS-V and Corvette ZR1 muscle cars. A similar story could be told for most other major brands.
Instead of a horsepower race, Oge hopes carmakers will focus on a new green race to spark technological change. Already we’re witnessing the rush for plug-in hybrid technology and Oge says the same can happen for other alternatives. Probably the best of example of a green race is the Automotive-X Prize to create a 100mpg production car. Although it’s still in the early stages there will soon be numerous potential designs for ultra-efficient cars spawned from the challenge.
Carmakers are starting to get the message. Last week an AMG exec described how his company is happy with the current level of power and isn’t seeking to squeeze more performance from engines. But at the end of the day such high horsepower cars sell in extremely limited numbers and they’re usually driven much less than your average family sedan as well so their contribution to the environment could be considered very low risk. These are the cars that also attract the most attention at car shows, so it’s safe to assume the big power figures are here to stay for a little while longer.