The Obama administration today announced tougher fuel mileage standards and tailpipe emission limits forcing automakers to meet a fleetwide average of 35.5 miles per gallon (6.6lt/100km) by 2016, four years sooner than what Congress required in 2007, when it called for an average standard of 35mpg by 2020. Under the new plan, passenger cars sold in the U.S. will be required to travel on average 39 miles per gallon while light trucks will have to return a combined figure of 30 mpg by 2016.
According to a senior administration official, the new program will add an extra $1,300 to the price of producing a vehicle (compared to the $700 forecasted by the Bush administration's 2007 fuel efficiency proposal) but it is expected that consumers will bank around $2,800 over the car's life from fuel-savings.
The new regulations are said to save 1.8 billion barrels of oil and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 900 metric tons.
"The status quo is no longer acceptable. We have done little to increase fuel efficiency of America's cars and trucks for decades," Obama said in an address from the White House.
"As a result of this agreement, we will save 1.8 billion barrels of oil over the lifetime of the vehicles sold in the next five years," Obama added. "And at a time of historic crisis in our auto industry, this rule provides the clear certainty that will allow these companies to plan for a future in which they are building the cars of the 21st century."