Thursday, November 30, 2023


New fuel economy standards for 2026. Will your TOAD get 49 mpg?

Imagine pulling up to the fuel pump in your motorhome’s “toad.” You fill up the tank and take a moment to check your fuel economy. Wow! 48 miles to the gallon! All this from your 2026 model-year run-about. That could be the take from last week’s headlines that announced the new federal government fuel economy standards for 2026. But hang on. Like the fine print says, “Your results may vary”—a lot!

The devil is in the details

The new standards were announced by Uncle Sam’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The standard has multi-purposes. One, reduce air pollution. Two, ease some of the pain on drivers’ pocketbooks. Three, reduce the country’s dependence on foreign fuel. Most folks would agree with those ideas. After all, who of us wouldn’t mind getting nearly 50 miles to the gallon?

But the devil is in the details. The new rules apply to CAFE—or Corporate Average Fuel Economy. There’s a major difference between CAFE numbers and what you’ll actually find in real life. Why so?

Simply put, that single number, 49 miles per gallon, is a goal for the AVERAGE economy of all vehicles. It’s also just an estimate that the government looks to achieve under the new rules. A Congressional Research Service document explains that such numbers are “not a requirement for every—or for any specific—vehicle or manufacturer.”

Targets, credits, and a fuzzy bottom line

While every car or truck coming off the manufacturing line will have a fuel economy target, that 49 mpg average figure is for ALL the rigs sold in a given fleet. Ford, for example, may well have cars and trucks that get less than their individual target. Other Fords may well exceed their target mileage. That means across Ford’s fleet, you should see an average of 49 miles per gallon come 2026, right? Hang on, there are more details that can devil our thinking.

The CAFE program also allows for credits. Did a company really beat the target fuel economy for a given car or truck? Then that over-performance earns them credits that can be used then, or at other times, to prop up under-performing vehicles, keeping the “fleet” average economy inside the requirement. But let’s say Ford has a bunch of credits, and its corporate wisdom says it may not ever need to use them. Ford can trade those credits to other vehicle manufacturers to prop up their own CAFE fuel economy figures.

Bottom line: When you pull up to the fuel pump with that fancy 2026 toad, don’t bet you’ll be seeing fuel economy figures anywhere close to 49 miles per gallon. The rule of thumb for comparing CAFE numbers to real-world fuel economy is to knock off about 20% from the CAFE standard. In other words, look to see around 39 miles per gallon.


Russ and Tiña De Maris
Russ and Tiña De Maris
Russ and Tiña went from childhood tent camping to RVing in the 1980s when the ground got too hard. They've been tutored in the ways of RVing (and RV repair) by a series of rigs, from truck campers, to a fifth-wheel, and several travel trailers. In addition to writing scores of articles on RVing topics, they've also taught college classes for folks new to RVing. They authored the book, RV Boondocking Basics.



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mtbmitch (@guest_177061)
1 year ago

The mid term elections will change this unobtainable mpg. The costs of 49 mpg really hurts the lower middle class. The power grid can’t handle a 6 fold increase in e automobiles. It would be nice to see the RV industry apply aerodynamics to help reduce fuel consumption. Rectangular boxes are a disgrace and aesthetically frugly. The Bowlus is the only true aerodynamic TT out their that is in production today. The Everygreen Element is also clean. Too bad they timing was off.

Patty (@guest_176589)
1 year ago

Nope, never!! German made cars are heavy and will never get that mph. I spent 97.00 to fill up yesterday and was not quite on E.

Dana D (@guest_176307)
1 year ago

We weren’t dependent on foreign fuel when Biden took office!

Rick (@guest_176229)
1 year ago

Why do we buy “foreign oil” in the first place? We have all we need under feet!!! Besides, wind and solar will sustain us…not by a long shot

Snayte (@guest_176155)
1 year ago

This should not be difficult at all. The power output of engines has increased dramatically in the last 30 years. A 2000 Geo Metro got over 40 MPG. All they need to do is turn some of those performance gains into efficiency gains.

Danny Morrell (@guest_176061)
1 year ago

The Federal Government is involved in all aspects of control of us the people. It is a shame our liberties are being infringed upon from light bulbs, health care, and what kind of energy we use. MPG really. I depend on Fossil Fuels, and the consistent reliability. Drill, Pump, Refine, that sweet oil. Keep the Pump Jacks Pumping for us Fossil Fuel Junkies.

rollin mckim (@guest_176049)
1 year ago


And the primary purpose of the new standard is to kill reliable fossil energy……..

And perhaps to drive us peons into serfdom.

It is certainly not going to help RVing.

Cheryl Wardell (@guest_176042)
1 year ago

Our vehicle when not towing gets 25 mpg a 2012 Sienna. Our Prius gets between 45 and 50 mpg, but is 15 years old. If the manufacturers can and want to make vehicles with that mpg, good luck. We will continue to pod but maybe closer to home, which we have been doing the last year in the fall. Fortunately, we live in an area that is beautiful and many nearby states come her to vacation, making us a tourist state for many more than people think. Here the businesses have to compete with higher hourly wages, vacation/sick leave, and good health insurance. Skilled workers are scarce everywhere, there has not been enough emphasis on jobs in the “working” man’s field although wages and benefits are good. The tech schools in this area and recruiting along with the professional unions to get people in and training. Going to the high schools, concentrating on women and other minorities. I am hopeful. My father was a master carpenter who had good electronic skills so trained and transfer

KellyR (@guest_175996)
1 year ago

RVTravel, I hope that you can find somewhere to archive all of these EV comments for just one generation from now, about 50 years down the road. It should be amusing for that generation to read. Will it be “I told you so”, or “their thinking was stuck in the mud”? Gosh, I hope God lets me look down to read THOSE comments.

BILLY Bob Thronton (@guest_176348)
1 year ago
Reply to  KellyR

One answer. Fossil fuel charges the EV. Bird chopping windmills, and solar are a mere bag of shells, in the needed energy to run the planet at the scale you enjoy so much.

Paul Cecil (@guest_175995)
1 year ago

It is an interesting article, but why in a RV newsletter? Did I miss something?

RV Staff
1 year ago
Reply to  Paul Cecil

Ummm. This is about vehicles potentially being towed by RVs, for driving after the MH is parked. That’s probably why it’s in an RV newsletter. Have a good day, Paul. 🙂 –Diane

Joe (@guest_175945)
1 year ago

This is the same mentality they used with power plants. A power company could pay Uncle Sam for credits however over time the credits would slowly go away. A power company could sell unused credits to another that was way over their limit.

Traditional large boiler coal, oil, and natural gas power production that is considered base load 24/7 operation is going the way of the Dodo bird. What this country is now starting to rely on is the peaking power plants which burn natural gas or oil and were never designed to run 24/7. Solar and wind production will never be able to replace the base load power plants especially what the government wants to do with the electric car industry.

Gary (@guest_175941)
1 year ago

Just another example of bureaucrats making engineering decisions.

Roger Marble (@guest_175926)
1 year ago

I see that as expected, “change” is automatically castigated by some as pure evil, Whether the change is from horse-drawn carts to gas-powered cars or to renewable energy. I do wonder how many are still opposed to the numerous government-mandated safety features found in cars today that continue to make driving safer almost every year. The death rate has dropped from 27.7 per 100k population in 1969 to 11.9 in 2019. Do people really oppose that drop? Personally I believe that if we do not establish goals for safer cars, and other consumer products and for cleaner air and water, the un-regulated systems would have us at 100,000 auto-related deaths per year. Yes, there need to be changes and adaptations to current energy systems. I do not doubt that the options, systems, and technologies of today will have to change but I also hope that intelligence and science will prevail as new and yet un-imagined features and systems are invented and made common. OK I’m stepping off my soapbox.

Tom H. (@guest_175951)
1 year ago
Reply to  Roger Marble

My thoughts exactly! Thank you Roger.

Eric Ramey (@guest_175888)
1 year ago

I always laugh when people post on a public forum “Our electric grid can’t handle electric cars” or “Tesla batteries are bad for the environment”

1-The 1st gas powered car was sold in 1893. The 1st dedicated gas station was established in 1905. Back then our fuel industry couldn’t handle vehicles powered by gasoline but thanks to a few entrepreneurs they figured it out from making to distribution.
2-Tesla batteries are bad for the environment. An average Tesla battery lasts 300k-500k miles. If I look back at my Olds Delta 88 and what I replaced on that car over its lifetime of 120k miles. I am confident that most of it is sitting at the bottom of a landfill, river, lake or stream. Fast forward a few years I have replaced a bunch of stuff on my wrangler and most of it has been recycled or properly disposed of.

Long story short..someone with a lot more brain power than me will figure out the unknowns that lie ahead of us.

Robert Patrick McBride (@guest_175897)
1 year ago
Reply to  Eric Ramey

That’s what I always say, someone smarter than me will get it done right. The only problem I have is when they did nuclear power, they didn’t think it through. Look at the problems they are having trying to get rid of the wastewater, the plan seems to be dumping it into rivers & oceans, EEYGADS!

Last edited 1 year ago by Robert Patrick McBride
Walt (@guest_175918)
1 year ago
Reply to  Eric Ramey

Take California (please) for example. Presently the grid cannot keep up with demand as the increasing number rolling blackouts demonstrate. Add more electric cars and don’t forget the ban on sales of non-electric lawn mowers and other petrol- powered equipment and the switching from household use to all electric. People did not jump out of the horse buggies into the automobiles because of concern about the environment, but rather by realizing a better and easier form of transportation.

BILLY Bob Thronton (@guest_176350)
1 year ago
Reply to  Walt

Greenies dont deal in realities, sadly. So, their soapbox talk is just the topic of the day. Reseach EVs, they, in their present state, are mere toys for the rich, nothing more.

Joe (@guest_175957)
1 year ago
Reply to  Eric Ramey

Most people will be in for a rude awakening when all they can purchase is an electric vehicle. In a household with a 100 Amp 240 volt electrical service they more than likely have gas heat, gas dryer, gas stove, and gas hot water heater and may have central or window shaker air conditioning. Charging 1 electric car on 240 volt level 2 charger would more than likely be into the 80% load with the car charging and other misc loads in the house depending on the season. Proper electrical design calls for no circuit to be loaded more than 80%. If the same household has 2 electric cars to charge then they will have to upgrade to a 200 amp 240 volt panel. Now for most people with an existing 200 amp panel. More than likely they are an all electric home, heat pump or air conditioning or electric baseboard, electric dryer, electric stove and oven, electric hot water heater. 1 electric vehicle will more than likely put them into that 80% range depending on the season. Having worked in the electrical energy sector for close to 40 years and in retirement paying close attention to it, I can tell you that most of the present electrical infrastructure can not handle a large surge in electrical demand to charge all of these vehicles with California being a prime example. Rural areas could be hit harder. Where is the power coming from and how will it be distributed over existing lines. Solar and wind will never replace traditional coal, oil, and gas power generation.

BILLY Bob Thronton (@guest_176351)
1 year ago
Reply to  Joe

Your talking sense. There is no place for you here, move along, as the greenies will shout you down, mock you for being a Neanderthal.

Thats from their fossil fueled home, have the grid keep them from darkness, as heavy industry manufactures the equipment to grow their food, powered by fosdil fuel

Kim Christiansen
1 year ago

Hey Billy Bob, calm down on the name calling! We get it, you don’t like people who care about the environment. Now whaddya say we give it a rest?

Kim Christiansen
1 year ago
Reply to  Joe

Your numbers are off.

Level 2 chargers requires between a 16 to 40 amp circuit. Most EVs are charged overnight when overall power usage is lower. So generally not a problem for a single EV. Tesla’s charger provides up to 44amps of charging, so one would assume you’d need at least a 60amp circuit for that run.

If you have a 100amp service in your house and want 2 electric cars, then you either need to use lower charging rates (like 16-20amps) or upgrade your electrical panel (and meter!)m to 200amps. It’s not cheap and would add around $750 – $2,000 to your install bill.

For houses built after 1980 most already have 200amp panels.

It’s no different than purchasing any new large draw electrical device. I had to upgrade to a 200amp panel and meter when I installed my hot tub.

It’s a one-time charge and it adds to the resale value of your home.


Magee (@guest_176206)
1 year ago
Reply to  Eric Ramey

“In 1905, etc”, relied on people (entrepreneurs) to make it work: reliability, economy, etc, Now, we (some) seem to want it enforced by subsidizing with taxes. Which, to me, means it is really not feasible by most peoples’ standard.

BILLY Bob Thronton (@guest_176349)
1 year ago
Reply to  Eric Ramey

Teslas are junk. Take a moment and look at how poorly they are built, with multiple failures. They are virtually useless in approximately half of the colder climate in the US. Its astounding on how the true facts of EVs are never disgusted by the media, which in turn, keeps the whole pie in the sky crowd going.

Kim Christiansen
1 year ago

Right and very, very wrong at the same time!

Tesla’s have had some build quality issues (well documented on YouTube). But I also know Tesla owners that are perfectly happy with the build of their car. Like any manufacturer, they will have some lemons, but overall they are a good car.

EVs are not useless in the cold. We have thousands in the PNW and they work just fine. Range is slightly reduced in very cold weather. But Nordic countries have a lot of EVs and they wouldn’t keep buying them if they didn’t work in the cold.

I’m not sure where you get your facts from, since you’re not sharing, but let’s not spread falsehoods here please.

Estep (@guest_175879)
1 year ago

Lets see, If my Class c gets 9 miles a gallon on the road. I do not complain if my Toad gets 27 that`s three times better now. I will never complain at that. We settle and tour in the Toad. High gas just means we tour to farther distance before we move the rig.

RallyAce (@guest_175843)
1 year ago

We need to look at this through the eyes of a politician. Policies are used to win demographics that will result in more votes. What is realistic generally does not matter, what gets votes does matter. The new target demographic is voters from 18 to 35 years old. There are a lot of them, they are idealistic and most importantly, they will be voting for the next 50 years. Get them now and you are assured a long career as an elected official. Will the new CAFE requirement work? Probably not. Will it force the real plan for more electric vehicles? Yes. Can the current electrical infrastructure handle a massive increase in electric vehicles? A resounding NO. Experts say it could take more than 20 years of concerted effort to get the electrical infrastructure in a position to replace half of the current gas and diesel vehicles with electric powered vehicles. Wait until the power companies propose new nuclear plants. Watch the objections that will follow.

Magee (@guest_176207)
1 year ago
Reply to  RallyAce

I think you are correct!

Bruce Williams (@guest_175836)
1 year ago

I have been getting 48 mpg since 2015 when I bought a Prius. Got to say, I laugh all the way to the bank every time I fill up. Until recently, I had never put more than $20 in the tank to go 480+ miles. Last week I put in $38. (Thanks Joe!) Now, if they could just make it towable, so I could tow it behind my 40ft DP. I want to get a license plate for it that reads “NTALBRL” so I am not mistaken.

Mark O. (@guest_175829)
1 year ago

Big deal, we already get 40 mpg with our Honda Fit on the highway and no worse than 36 around town. Got a friend that just went out last fall and bought a new Jeep Wrangler and he’s bitching about the lousy 10 mpg he’s getting (12 when he took a highway trip). They can say whatever they want about this, reality is a totally different deal.

Snayte (@guest_176151)
1 year ago
Reply to  Mark O.

How heavy is his foot? I have a Wrangler and get about 18 combined. In the low twenties on the highway.

mtbmitch (@guest_177063)
1 year ago
Reply to  Snayte

Lots of people like bigger wheels and tires which kills mileage.

Brad G. Hancock NH (@guest_175821)
1 year ago

This “Comments” section has taken on a very negative, in-your-face tone recently. Keep your politics and your “Liberal and Conservative” pontificating BS to yourselves. If you want to rant and rave, turn on either Fox News or MSNBC and yell at the TV screen. I read RV Travel for news and insights about the RV lifestyle.
Have a nice day.

Tom H. (@guest_175952)
1 year ago

Amen to that!

David (@guest_176299)
1 year ago

This is an article about government intervention in the private sector. It was always about politics.

Gary H. (@guest_175808)
1 year ago

They never think (or do not care) of the conseqences they create from their policies. I’m sure we all want to preserve the future of this great nation but to what expense do we make that happen. They need to pause, think and show a plan, that is realistic for everyone. Investing into different energy is a good thing, but the consequences must be addressed in the mean time for us to move forward and survive.

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