Administration seeks 54.5 mpg standard for cars and light trucks

| Monday, August 01, 2011

The Obama administration and automakers have reached an agreement to get cars and light trucks to average 54.5 mpg by the year 2025. The news comes as the trucking industry braces for a final rule that will announce the first ever mileage and emission standards for heavy and medium-duty vehicles.

President Barack Obama announced the new standards for cars and light trucks on Friday, July 29, saying the benchmark will help save Americans $1.7 trillion at the pump, or about $8,000 per vehicle.

Federal agencies teamed up with 13 automakers representing 90 percent of the cars in the U.S. to develop the standards, and have garnered the blessing of the United Auto Workers and others.

An earlier plan from the administration targets a 35.5 mpg standard for cars and light trucks during model years 2012 through 2016. The newest phase begins in 2017 and includes the goal to reach 54.5 mpg by 2025. The mileage number is down slightly from a 60 mpg standard the president originally sought.

Emissions also play into the picture. The administration says the new standards will reduce carbon pollution in the atmosphere by 6 billion metric tons.

Meanwhile, heavy and medium-duty truck manufacturers, along with owner-operators, motor carriers and others in the trucking industry continue to brace for the first ever mileage and emission standards for future new vehicles. Those standards could be announced sometime this summer in the form of a final rule issued by the Environmental Protection Agency and National Highway and Transportation Safety Administration.

According to information released last year, the Obama administration seeks a 20 percent boost in mileage and a similar reduction in carbon emissions for heavy and medium-duty trucks by the year 2018. The standards for trucking would be based on a weight-distance formula.

OOIDA and small-business truck owners fear that the standards could add significant cost to new equipment, therefore causing owner-operators and small fleets to hold on to older vehicles for as long as possible. New standards in the trucking industry can also lead to a “pre-buy” scenario in which truck owners stock up on vehicles that precede the model year of the proposed changes.

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