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Administration Reconsiders Fuel Rules for Large SUVs

March 16, 2004

WASHINGTON, DC- The Bush administration will consider applying fuel efficiency standards to extra-large sport/utility vehicles, which are now exempt, as part of a broad review of fuel mileage requirements for all trucks and SUVs, according to the Washington Post. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) said it will examine several changes to fuel economy regulations. Current policy, known as corporate average fuel economy (CAFE), was drawn up in the 1970s and bears "little resemblance to today's motor vehicle market or the current and emerging vehicle fleet," the agency wrote in a notice of proposed rulemaking. The agency is not proposing changes to specific mileage requirements; instead, it wants to revise the way the policies apply to vehicles. This year, for instance, new cars are to average 27.5 miles per gallon, and light trucks must average 20.7 miles per gallon. But the truck requirement only applies to vehicles with a gross vehicle weight (GVW) of up to 8,500 pounds. NHTSA is now considering setting a standard for vehicles up to 10,000 pounds GVW. NHTSA also plans to consider creating various classes of light trucks based on weight, size, or a combination of qualities. The agency seeks to prevent automakers from meeting mileage standards by simply making lighter vehicles because agency-commissioned studies have found that decreasing weight often makes vehicles more dangerous to occupants during a crash. The public and the auto industry will have 120 days to comment on NHTSA's proposals. The agency could draft new policies by the end of 2004, a spokesman said, but any regulations would not take effect until the 2008-model year.
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