The Car and Truck Fleet and Leasing Management Magazine

Government Takes Steps to Advance Fuel Economy Goals

October 04, 2010

WASHINGTON - In a preliminary technical analysis unveiled Friday, Oct. 1, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Transportation described scenarios in which cars would be required to get 47 to 62 miles per gallon by the year 2025, the Los Angeles Times reported.

The EPA and Department of Transportation said they are beginning the process of developing tougher greenhouse gas and fuel economy standards for passenger cars and trucks built in model years 2017 through 2025. The agencies estimated that such improvements would add about $800 to $3,500 to the cost of a car but that motorists would see "lifetime savings due to reduced fuel costs of about $5,000 to over $7,000."

The analysis projected increasing fuel standards 3 to 6 percent a year, starting with 2017 models. This preliminary assessment is summarized in a "notice of intent" document.

Final rules are scheduled for the end of July 2012.

The Oct. 1 action by the EPA and Department of Transportation launches a long rule-making process. In May, President Obama directed EPA and DOT to propose regulations to extend the national program and to coordinate with the California Air Resources Board (CARB) in developing a technical assessment.

The national fuel standard program is a key part of the Obama administration's energy and climate security goals. According to the administration, the aim of the national program is to enable manufacturers to build a single national fleet of cars and light trucks that satisfies all federal and California standards, while ensuring that consumers have a full range of vehicle choices.

"In addition to protecting our air and cutting fuel consumption, a clear path forward will give American automakers the certainty they need to make the right investments and promote innovations," said EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson. "We will continue to work with automakers, environmentalists and other stakeholders to encourage standards that reduce our addiction to foreign oil, save money for American drivers, and clean up the air we breathe."

A supplemental "notice of intent" document, including an updated analysis of possible future standards, is due Nov. 30. As part of that process, the agencies will conduct additional study and meet with stakeholders to better determine what level of standards might be appropriate.

Dave McCurdy, CEO of the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, released the following statement in response to the Oct. 1 action: "As the agencies acknowledge, the assumptions in the Notice of Intent -- and the potential ranges of improvements that they imply -- are based on very preliminary and incomplete data at this point, and inevitably will change as more information is brought to the process. In the coming weeks, we will carefully review the technical assessment's assumptions regarding factors that will impact vehicle fuel economy increases over this time period. These include vehicle technologies and technology costs, the cost of gasoline, development of low-carbon fuels, and development of infrastructure to charge plug-in hybrids and battery electrics.

"EPA and DOT should now engage a broad range of independent experts to undertake a thorough analysis and balance the technological opportunities to improve vehicle and fleet fuel economy with the economic challenges they present -- for automakers and American consumers."

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