SEPTEMBER 2011
                                        

President Obama announces 54.5 mpg efficiency standard

President Obama has announced a historic agreement with 13 major automakers to pursue the next phase in the administration’s national vehicle program – increasing fuel economy to 54.5 miles per gallon for cars and light-duty trucks by model year 2025. The President was joined by Ford, GM, Chrysler, BMW, Honda, Hyundai, Jaguar/Land Rover, Kia, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Toyota and Volvo – which together account for over 90 percent of all vehicles sold in the United States – as well as the United Auto Workers (UAW), and the State of California, who were integral to developing this agreement.

“This agreement on fuel standards represents the single most important step we’ve ever taken as a nation to reduce our dependence on foreign oil,” said President Obama. “Most of the companies here were part of an agreement we reached two years ago to raise the fuel efficiency of their cars over the next five years. We’ve set an aggressive target and the companies are stepping up to the plate. By 2025, the average fuel economy of their vehicles will nearly double to almost 55 miles per gallon.”

Building on the Obama administration’s agreement for model years 2012-2016 vehicles, which will raise fuel efficiency to 35.5 mpg and begin saving families money at the pump this year, the next round of standards will require performance equivalent to 54.5 mpg or 163 grams/mile of CO2 for cars and light-duty trucks by model year 2025. Achieving the goals of this historic agreement will rely on innovative technologies and manufacturing that will spur economic growth and create high-quality domestic jobs in cutting edge industries across America.

These programs, combined with the model year 2011 light truck standard, represent the first meaningful update to fuel efficiency standards in three decades and span model years 2011 to 2025. Together, they will save American families $1.7 trillion dollars in fuel costs, and by 2025 result in an average fuel savings of over $8,000 per vehicle. Additionally, these programs will dramatically cut oil consumed, saving a total of 12 billion barrels of oil, and by 2025, reduce oil consumption by 2.2 million barrels per day – as much as half of the oil imported from OPEC every day.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of Transportation (DOT) have worked closely with auto manufacturers, the state of California, environmental groups, and other stakeholders for several months to ensure these standards are achievable, cost-effective and preserve consumer choice. The program would increase the stringency of standards for passenger cars by an average of five percent each year. The stringency of standards for pick-ups and other light-duty trucks would increase an average of 3.5 percent annually for the first five model years and an average of five percent annually for the last four model years of the program, to account for the unique challenges associated with this class of vehicles.

EPA and NHTSA are developing a joint proposed rulemaking, which will include full details on the proposed program and supporting analyses, including the costs and benefits of the proposal and its effects on the economy, auto manufacturers, and consumers. After the proposed rules are published in the Federal Register, there will be an opportunity for public comment and public hearings. The agencies plan to issue a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking by the end of September 2011. California plans on adopting its proposed rule in the same time frame as the federal proposal.

Given the long time frame at issue in setting standards for model years 2022-2025 light-duty vehicles, EPA and NHTSA intend to propose a comprehensive mid-term evaluation. Consistent with the agencies’ commitment to maintaining a single national framework for vehicle GHG and fuel economy regulation, the agencies will conduct the mid-term evaluation in close coordination with California.

In achieving the level of standards described above for the 2017-2025 program, the agencies expect automakers’ use of advanced technologies to be an important element of transforming the vehicle fleet. The agencies are considering a number of incentive programs to encourage early adoption and introduction into the marketplace of advanced technologies that represent “game changing” performance improvements, including:

  • Incentives for electric vehicles, plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, and fuel cells vehicles;
  • Incentives for advanced technology packages for large pickups, such as hybridization and other performance-based strategies;
  • Credits for technologies with potential to achieve real-world CO2 reductions and fuel economy improvements that are not captured by the standards test procedures.

In addition, EPA plans to propose provisions for:

  • Credits for improvements in air conditioning systems, both for efficiency improvements and for use of alternative, lower global warming potential refrigerant;
  • Treatment of compressed natural gas (CNG);
  • Continued credit banking and trading, including a one-time carry-forward of unused model year 2010-2016 credits through model year 2021.