Obama Announces New Fuel Economy Standards (35.5 MPG in 2016)

This guy won't be too happy. Photo: Lydia Marcus
Feel Average of 35.5 MPG in 2016
We already knew it was coming, but now it's official. the US fuel economy standards are being beefed up starting in 2012, ramping up by 5% a year to a fleet average (cars & trucks) of 35.5 MPG in 2016. This makes the CAFE law passed by Congress in 2007 (requiring an average fuel economy of 35 mpg in 2020) pretty much obsolete. More details below.

obama photo

Photo: jdebner, CC

From the White House press release:

"In the past, an agreement such as this would have been considered impossible," said President Obama. "That is why this announcement is so important, for it represents not only a change in policy in Washington, but the harbinger of a change in the way business is done in Washington. As a result of this agreement, we will save 1.8 billion barrels of oil over the lifetime of the vehicles sold in the next five years. And at a time of historic crisis in our auto industry, this rule provides the clear certainty that will allow these companies to plan for a future in which they are building the cars of the 21st century."

This should also bring a reduction of 900 million metric tons in greenhouse gas emissions (though the White House isn't clear if this is over the 4 year period or over the lifetime of the vehicles produced during that period.

What's particularly interesting about this regulation is that it creates a national policy. Instead of having the EPA, DOE and California all fighting with each other and passing different laws that the automakers must then try to follow, this one target should create some predictability that helps everybody.

Of course I wish they had gone even further (maybe it could keep ramping up by 5% a year after 2016?), but after years of stagnation, this is a good start.

Via White House
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