President Barack Obama has announced a new fuel efficiency policy that requires automakers to meet a 35.5 mpg standard four years early, by 2016. This one standard will simplify the jobs of automaker engineering teams -- now they must meet just one policy instead of meeting a Department of Transportation standard, an Environmental Protection Agency standard, and the California standard that 13 other states use as well.
Obama's administration believes the new policy will save consumers money over the long run through increased fuel efficiency from a small supermini to a large luxury seven-passenger crossover. Of course, expediting fuel economy standards will also require added investment from automakers. Since there's no such thing as a free lunch, you can bet some of this new technological cost will be passed on to the consumer. Then again, Obama estimates that consumers will save consumers $2700 over the life of a new vehicle subject to this new standard.
For more analysis on what the new policy will mean to automakers, click here to read the blog of Motor Trend's Detroit Editor Todd Lassa.
"The sun is out," Obama said to start off his early afternoon press conference, "because good things are happening."
The new plan calls for yearly increases in efficiency from 2012 to 2016, translating to a savings of 1.8 billion barrels of oil over the span of the program or, the White House press release says, the equivalent of taking 177 million of today's vehicles off the road. The new standard tackles mpgs as well as greenhouse gases.
According to the release, the new plan will provide automakers "clarity, predictability, and certainty regarding the rules," and gives them an extra year to start the plan compared to California's initial proposal, which would have started regulating fuel efficiency in 2011.
Representatives from a number of automakers like General Motors, Chrysler, Ford, Toyota, Volkswagen, Honda, and BMW are scheduled to be on-stage participants, not to mention United Auto Workers President Ron Gettlefinger.
Here are excerpts from the statements of various automakers:
Ford: "We salute the cooperative efforts of the Obama Administration, the state of California, environmental groups and others that played a constructive role in this process."
GM: "Harmonizing a variety of regulations will benefit consumers across America by getting cleaner, more efficient vehicles on the road quicker and more affordably. In turn, GM and the auto industry benefit by having more consistency and certainty to guide our product plans."
Toyota: "We welcome the Administration's leadership in developing a coordinated fuel efficiency and greenhouse gas standard. This is something we have encouraged and sought for a very long time."
Chrysler: "With regulatory clarity and certainty, Chrysler and its alliance partner, Fiat, will now be able to concentrate their resources on developing a nationwide fleet of clean, fuel-efficient vehicles that will help support its revitalization and benefit American consumers."