Thursday, September 17, 2009

New Fuel Economy Program for Vehicles Proposed by DOT and EPA

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson on Sept. 15 jointly proposed a national program for improving automotive fuel economy and reducing greenhouse gases.

The program covers model years 2012 through 2016. It allows carmakers to build a single, light-duty national fleet that would satisfy all federal requirements and the standards of California and other states.

And it replaces rules set under 3 standards (DOT, EPA, and a state standard) by a single set of clearer rules -- something that automakers will probably welcome.

Some specifics:

Fuel economy of a corporate light-duty vehicle fleet would increase by about 5% every year, to 35.5 mpg in model year 2016. The current law requires an average fuel economy of 35 mpg in 2020.

Greenhouse gas emissions: The proposed rules introduce the nation’s first national greenhouse gas standards. They cover vehicles that produce almost 60% of all transportation-related greenhouse gas emissions.

Model year 2016 vehicles would have to emit no more than 250 grams of carbon dioxide per mile. CO2 emissions would be cut by about 21% in 2030 over the level that would occur had there been no new greenhouse gas or fuel economy standards.

The program is expected to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by nearly 950 million metric tons, equivalent to the emissions of 42 million cars.

Lower costs for consumers: According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the EPA, if you buy, not lease, a new 2016 car, you would save more than $3,000 in fuel costs over the lifetime of the car. In the first 3 years, you would save enough to offset the increase in the price of the car.

Fewer oil imports: The program is projected to conserve 1.8 billion barrels of oil -- or twice the amount of oil imported in 2008 from Persian Gulf countries.

How will the car industry meet these standards? By improving engine efficiency, transmissions and tires, and air conditioning systems, and by increasing the use of start-stop technology. Hybrid vehicles and clean diesel engines would also probably get a boost in sales.

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