NHTSA Sets New Standards for Fuel Economy by 2015 ~ Hybrid Car Review
Hybrid Car Review: NHTSA Sets New Standards for Fuel Economy by 2015

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

NHTSA Sets New Standards for Fuel Economy by 2015

According to the Detroit News (Feds: 36 mpg for cars by 2015), the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is putting forth a proposal to raise the average car mpg to 35.7 mpg and light trucks to 28.6 mpg by 2015.

The proposal is part of the 2007 Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA), passed by Congress and signed by Bush in 2007 as part of his "Twenty in Ten" initiative. The end goal is at least a 35 mpg standard for both passenger and light trucks. The new CAFE standards passed this year will force car makers to a 35 mpg fleetwide average by 2020.

The NHTSA proposal sets an annual increase of 4.6 percent per year and is higher than the 4 percent required by Congress.

There will be a 'credit transfer/trading system, allowing automakers to move credits from their car fleets to their truck fleets, or even sell credits to their less efficient brethren.

The mpg numbers quoted above will not be uniform to each fleet. They are being set based on size or attributes of each car, although it's not clear what those attributes or the final numbers are.

The Detroit News points out these new regulations are unlikely to be challenged by the automakers, who are under pressure from the states who wish to enact even more stringent rules. So far, California is still fighting to gain a waiver from the EPA, but if they do, other states will quickly follow suit.

The Auto Alliance has already reacted to the news, issuing a statement which states:

"Congress has set an aggressive, single, nationwide standard and automakers are prepared to meet that challenge. This proposal represents an important mile marker on the road to at least 35 miles per gallon by 2020."--Dave McCurdy, President and CEO, Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers

  • In supporting the Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA) the Alliance and its member companies acknowledge that we have a responsibility to increase fuel economy and limit greenhouse gas emissions from new automobiles.
  • When fully implemented EISA will result in a minimum 40 percent increase in fuel economy standards and a 30 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions through 2020.
  • Achieving significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions from automotive sector will require a comprehensive approach involving the vehicles, fuels, and drivers.
  • Automakers believe this tough, nationwide, proposed fuel economy increase will be good for both consumers and energy security. While these increases will present a challenge, it is critical that automakers and consumers have the certainty that this nationwide, 50-state fuel economy rule provides.
  • Automakers are committed to enhancing energy security and reducing carbon dioxide emissions through the use of alternative fuel autos. Our goal as manufacturers is to offer fuel-efficient vehicle options, with a wide range of attributes, at an affordable price. Last year, more than 1.8 million hybrid-electric, ethanol capable flexible fuel vehicles and clean diesel vehicles were sold in the U.S. That was a 15 percent increase over 2006. This year, more than 70 models of alternative fuel autos are available on dealer lots throughout the country.
ABG points out how strange the scenario really is, given the NHTSA, a safety board, sets the standards, while the EPA will be the one to enforce it. More details on the standards being set are available at GCC.

The end result will be obvious. Smaller engines, more hybrids, more ethanol (I believe there is a loophole on ethanol fueled vehicles) and the re-introduction of diesels in a major way to the US marketplace.

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