Feds issue new fuel economy rules for auto industry

| 3/29/2006

Soon, those who drive pickup trucks, sport utility vehicles and minivans can feel slightly less guilty about their low gas mileage.

The federal government has issued new fuel economy standards for all of those vehicles, starting with the 2008 model year. The process will be a gradual rollout continuing through 2011.

According to the final rulemaking, under the Corporate Average Fuel Economy system, automakers must now meet an average of 22.5 miles per gallon for their 2008 model year light trucks, SUV and minivans. That number will increase to 23.1 miles per gallon for 2009 and 23.5 miles per gallon by 2010.

The Department of Transportation estimates the requirement for 2011 will be 24 miles per gallon.

This rulemaking also marks the first time the largest sport utility vehicles have been included in the CAFE program. Those vehicles will be expected to meet the fuel economy standards starting in 2011.

Secretary of Transportation Norman Mineta said in a press release that the move could save as much as 10.7 billion gallons of fuel over the lifetime of the vehicles produced in those years.

“The new standards represent the most ambitious fuel economy goals for light trucks ever developed in the program’s 27 year history,” he said.