New gas mileage standards have been approved by the Obama administration that will increase fuel economy standards while improving green house gas (GHG) emissions. The new standards will affect car and truck model years 2012 to 2016. Automaker fleet-wide averages will be raised to 35.5 mpg by 2016 instead of 2020 as previously required.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency and National Public Radio (NPR) the EPA’s new Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) will require automakers to improve fuel economy and GHG emissions by five percent per year beginning in 2012 extending through 2016. That means that by 2016, standards will be increased by 10 mpg.
“The EPA issued its first rules ever on vehicle greenhouse gas emissions following a 2007 Supreme Court decision.” Dave McCurdy, a former congressman from Oklahoma who leads the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, was pleased to see the national standards. Car makers fought for single fuel economy standards for a while. States like California have previously had higher standards than those set by the EPA.
"America needs a road map to reduced dependence on foreign oil and greenhouse gases, and only the federal government can play this role," McCurdy said. "Today, the federal government has laid out a course of action through 2016, and now we need to work on 2017 and beyond."
Car manufacturers have been working on new technologies that will help them meet the new standards. Electric vehicles, hybrids and new turbo charged engines will all improve fleet-wide mileage standards while improving GHG emissions. the new standards will also provide an incentive to pursue yet other new technologies.
“This is a significant step towards cleaner air and energy efficiency, and an important example of how our economic and environmental priorities go hand-in-hand,” said EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson. “By working together with industry and capitalizing on our capacity for innovation, we’ve developed a clean cars program that is a win for automakers and drivers, a win for innovators and entrepreneurs, and a win for our planet.”
There will be a cost to consumers for these new fuel economy and GHG improvements. The average increased vehicle cost is expected to be $434 by 2012 and $926 by 2016. However, these increased vehicle costs are expected to be offset by “$3,000 over the life of a vehicle through better gas mileage.” These new standards also mean 1.8 billion fewer gallons of oil will be used by vehicle models from 2012 to 2016.
Better fuel economy, cleaner air. Not a bad tradeoff.