President Barack Obama recently announced a proposal to achieve a fuel economy of 54.5 miles per gallon for automakers of cars and light-duty trucks by the year of 2025.

The automakers include Ford, General Motors, Chrysler, BMW, Honda, Hyundai, Jaguar/Land Rover, Kia, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Toyota and Volvo, which account for 90 percent of all vehicles sold in the U.S. The administration worked with these automakers, the United Auto Workers (UAW) and the State of California to achieve this important milestone for fuel efficiency.

Obama fuel economy

The plan for the new fuel efficiency standard of 54.5 mpg by 2025 was unveiled by the Obama administration. Credit: Office of the White House

“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 Obama. “Most of the companies here today 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.”

The most current fuel efficiency standard of 35.5 mpg for Models Years 2012-2016 was an earlier proposal implemented by the Obama administration. Combined, these proposals represent the first meaningful update to fuel efficiency standards in three decades, spanning Model Years 2011 to 2025 for cars and light-duty trucks.

By modernizing these fuel efficiency standards, the Obama administration hopes to achieve goals of reducing dependence on foreign oil, saving Americans money at the pump and spurring job growth to develop efficient vehicle technologies. Overall, it is estimated to save American families $1.7 trillion in fuel costs and, by 2025, an average savings of more than $8,000 per vehicle. Oil consumption savings are estimated at 12 billion barrels and reducing oil imports by almost half to 2.2 million barrels a day by 2025.

Coupled with cost-saving benefits, the proposal will generate a cleaner environment by cutting more than six billion metric tons of greenhouse gas over the life of the program, which totals more than the amount of carbon dioxide emitted by the United States last year.

Both the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Transportation have worked with various stakeholders to develop a timeline to achieve these efficiency standards. The program includes, from 2021 to 2025, increasing the annual stringency of standards for passenger cars by an average of five percent each year and 3.5 percent for pick-ups and light-duty trucks for the last four model years of the program, which accounts for the unique challenges associated with a larger class of vehicles.

“These standards will help spur economic growth, protect the environment and strengthen our national security by reducing America’s dependence on foreign oil,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “Working together, we are setting the stage for a new generation of clean vehicles.”

“This is another important step toward saving money for drivers, breaking our dependence on imported oil and cleaning up the air we breathe,” said EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson. “American consumers are calling for cleaner cars that won’t pollute their air or break their budgets at the gas pump, and our innovative American automakers are responding with plans for some of the most fuel efficient vehicles in our history.”

Central to the program is developing new advanced technologies and training a workforce to further enhance these improvements. The performance enhancements are comprised of developing incentives for electric vehicles, plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, and fuel cell vehicles, technology packages for large pickups and credits for technologies to achieve real-world carbon dioxide reductions and fuel economy improvements outside of standard test procedures.

Additionally, the EPA has plans for more credit provisions to improve vehicle air conditioning systems, treatment of compressed natural gas and other continuous environmental credits.

More information can be obtained in the White House’s recent report, “Driving Efficiency: Cutting Costs for Families at the Pump and Slashing Dependence on Oil.”

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