The U.S. Transportation Department today will mandate the first passenger car fuel economy increase since 1975. The 2011 model year will require a fleetwide 8% increase above 2010 model year requirements to 27.3 MPG.
The Obama administration's 2011 model year standard will require the nation's cars and trucks to meet a fleet average Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) of 27.3 MPG — that's 8 percent above the 2010 model year requirement of 25.3 MPG, an administration official confirmed Thursday night. The regulations for the 2011 model year are final.
But wait, there's more.
The Obama administration opted to finalize only the 2011 model year standards partly due to a requirement under a 2007 energy law to wrap up those regulations by Tuesday. Administration officials will spend the next year reviewing the 2012-15 model years as they seek a comprehensive emissions policy.
So what does this mean — can automakers reach those targets? In a word, yes. We'll let David Shepardson from The Detroit News explain:
The increase in fuel economy requirements for passenger cars is the first since Congress created the CAFE program in 1975. In the wake of the Arab oil embargo, it ordered automakers to boost fuel efficiency from 13 mpg to 27.5 mpg over a decade
Automakers have outstripped the federal requirements, making it easier in the short run for them to meet the new requirements. In the 2007 model year, automakers averaged 31.3 mpg for passenger cars, and 23.1 mpg for light trucks, above the 22.2 mpg mandate.
But the next two model years are not where this story ends — the Obama administration's expected to decide before May whether to give California and 13 other states permission from the EPA to impose a requirement of a 30% decrease in tailpipe emissions by 2016. If that regulation goes through, it would have the effect of a fleetwide fuel economy of 34.5 MPG by 2015. Yay! We all get to drive econoboxes!