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.