July 30, 2011

‘Historic’ New US Fuel Economy Standards Announced

President Obama has announced what the Los Angeles Times is calling "an ambitious increase" in fuel-economy standards for vehicle model years 2017 through 2025.

The new standards, made official Friday, will require cars and light trucks to achieve a fleetwide average of 54.5 miles per gallon by the year 2025, two miles per gallon less than the White House had previously considered in discussions with California state officials, auto manufacturers, and environmentalists, according to reports from the Times' Neela Banerjee.

"With credits and exemptions included at the request of automakers, actual mileage may be about 50 mpg for cars and 40 to 45 mpg for light trucks, a category that includes minivans, SUVs and full-size pickup trucks," Banerjee added. "Still, the standards demand the car makers make a substantial leap from the 2011 model year requirement of 27.8 mpg."

Furthermore, Felicity Carus of the Guardian reports that the new corporate average fuel economy (CAFÓ°) standards will increase by 5% annually for cars and 3.5% annually for light trucks from 2017 through 2021. In 2008, economy standards of 35 miles per gallon for 2016 model year vehicles had been established.

According to AFP Reporter Tangi Quemener, the President made the announcement alongside executives from Ford, General Motors, Chrysler, Honda and Toyota. He called the agreement "the single most important step we've ever taken as a nation to reduce our dependence on foreign oil."

"We've set an aggressive target, and the companies here are stepping up to the plate," Obama added. "These standards are going to be a win for consumers, for these companies, for our economy, for our security, and for our planet."

"We are absolutely committed to continuously improving the fuel efficiency of all of our vehicles," Ford Chief Executive Alan Mulally said in an emailed statement, according to Banerjee. "This agreement provides the regulatory certainty we need to design and build fuel-efficient vehicles during the next 14 years."

Phyllis Cuttino, the Pew Environment Group's director of the clean energy program, called it "a historic compromise," telling Carus, "It will be the largest acceleration of fuel economy that we've had. Auto companies have said to themselves in good faith that we're really going to try to stretch. Given our history on fuel economy it's very impressive."

"In the absence of a comprehensive energy and climate policy you really have to take assertive action on smaller practical measures that you can take and implement now because if you're going to wait five or 10 years the curve to meet what science tells us to do becomes ever more steep," she added.

Originally, as was previously reported here on RedOrbit, the Obama administration had hoped to push for CAFE standards of 56.2 mile per gallon.

The Los Angeles Times reports that automakers "initially resisted the administration's demands and pushed for a much lower fleetwide target of 40 miles per gallon"¦ In the end, the car companies agreed to the higher standards, in part, because they would be allowed to move at a slower pace to improve fuel efficiency in their light truck fleet, which includes some of their best sellers, in the first five years of the new agreement that takes effect in 2017."


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