Obama Administration Hails New Fuel Economy Standards
New Standards Raise CAFE to 54.5 mpg, Supported by Most Automakers
After negotiations among multiple federal agencies, the state of California, and 13 automakers, the Obama administration has finalized revised fuel economy standards that the White House is claiming will save consumers more than $1.7 trillion at the pump, and reduce U.S. oil consumption by 12 billion barrels.
The standards were jointly issued between the Department of Transportation and the Environmental Protection Agency. The proposed standards that raise Corporate Average Fuel Economy to 54.5 mpg by 2025 build on the current standards targeting 35.5 mpg by 2016. The new standards are supported by a majority of foreign and domestic automakers. The two notable holdouts were Daimler AG, parent company of Mercedes-Benz, and Volkswagen.
Tony Cervone, executive vice president of Communications for Volkswagen Group of America, issued a statement in late July explaining the company's objections. "Volkswagen does not endorse the proposal under discussion. It places an unfairly high burden on passenger cars, while allowing special compliance flexibility for heavier light trucks. The proposal encourages manufacturers and customers to shift toward larger, less efficient vehicles, defeating the goal of reduced greenhouse gas emissions."
The standards offer incentives for electric vehicles, plug-in hybrids, fuel cells and natural gas vehicles, but conspicuously avoid any mention of clean diesels, a technology in which both VW and Daimler are heavily invested, in Europe and for the U.S. market.
However, Allen Shaefer, executive director for the Diesel Technology Forum, sees diesel playing a key role in helping the automakers meet the future standards. "Meeting these fuel-efficiency targets will likely require diverse technology solutions, and we're extremely confident that clean diesel technology is one of those solutions."
As part of negotiations with the automakers, the administration and regulators agreed to a mid-term evaluation to allow the agencies to review the standards' effectiveness and make needed adjustments.
Source: Whitehouse.gov, Environmental Protection Agency