Six European manufacturers have been hit with fines for exceeding corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) standards in the United States during the 2006 model year. DaimlerChrysler will pay the largest fine of $US30m.

According to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), fuel economy in the US averaged 26.2mpg (smaller US gallons, remember), up on 25.7mpg in the 2006 model year. Passenger cars averaged 31.2mpg, while light trucks averaged 23.1mpg, ahead of government targets for 2007 of 27.5mpg for cars and 22.2mpg for light trucks.

Six manufacturers will pay a total $40m in fines. According to the Associated Press, BMW will have to pay $5.1m, Porsche $4.6m, Maserati $1.4m, Volkswagen $1m and Ferrari $842,000. The DaimlerChrysler fine is due mainly to imports of Mercedes cars, and therefore is likely to be paid largely by Daimler. said the fine was calculated at $5.50 for every tenth of a mile under the 27.5mpg goal, multiplied by the number of vehicles sold. Averages of domestic and imported cars are calculated separately, but cars produced in Mexico and Canada are considered domestic under the regulations.

Only European car manufacturers have ever had to pay the fines. European OEMs are now fighting proposals for similar CO2 emissions-based fines to be imposed in Europe from 2012.