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Govt. seeks 62 mpg goal

The new cars and trucks sold in 2025 may be required to average 62 miles per gallon as a group, far surpassing the fuel efficiency of current high-mileage stars like the Toyota Prius and Honda Civic hybrids.

The government on Friday presented the potential range it is considering for fuel efficiency standards for new cars and trucks starting in 2017.

The Transportation Department and Environmental Protection Agency said the fleet of new vehicles may need to meet a standard set somewhere from 47 mpg to 62 mpg by 2025. The mileage gains would be the equivalent of an annual decrease in carbon dioxide emissions per mile of 3 to 6 percent.

The new standards, while several years away, are closely watched by automakers who plan vehicle lineups years in advance, as well as environmental groups trying to curb oil dependence and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. President Barack Obama has pushed for tougher fuel efficiency standards and the rules could take on added significance if Congress is unable to pass energy legislation capping greenhouse gases blamed for global warming.

After little progress during the past three decades, rules adopted earlier this year will lift the new vehicle fleet average to 35.5 mpg by 2016, an increase of more than 40 percent over current standards. The administration's announcement Friday is just a beginning in the work on mileage standards for the 2017-2025 model years.

The government intends to issue a proposal in September 2011 and a final rule by late July 2012.

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said the administration needed to "keep the momentum going to make sure that all motor vehicles sold in America are realizing the
best fuel economy and greenhouse gas reductions possible."

The fuel efficiency standards are designed to improve gas mileage across each automaker's lineup and across the nation's entire fleet of new vehicles. Vehicles must meet differing standards based on their dimensions. Compact cars must get better mileage than sport utility vehicles, for example, but requirements for all types will go up.

Governors from eight states -- Maryland, New York, New Mexico, Maine, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts and Washington -- urged Obama in a letter Friday to set standards of 60 mpg by 2025.

Automakers have cautioned that pushing gas mileage standards up that quickly could force them to raise prices beyond the reach of many consumers.

The documents estimate that the toughest efficiency standards in the range being considered would add $2,800 to $3,500 to the price of each vehicle. But under that scenario, owners would recoup their investment in 3 to 4 years and save $5,700 to $7,400 over the lifetime of the vehicle.

The government's so-called "notice of intent" document gives an overview of the possible standards, describing the technologies that would be needed to achieve those goals. It seeks feedback from the public. The two federal agencies plan to issue a second "notice of intent" by Nov. 30 with an updated analysis of potential targets for the 2017-2025 period.

-- Associated Press

By Michael Bolden  | October 1, 2010; 1:04 PM ET
Categories:  Driving, Transportation Politics  
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Ridiculous! There isn't a production car today, including the most fuel efficient hybrids, that can meet that standard. There are some experimental cars that can, but to make them in production will take cooperation from more than just automakers. For instance, better gas mileage requires lighter cars which may raise some safety concerns. State laws may need to change too.

Honestly, just raise gas prices to European levels and beyond, and demand for more fuel efficient vehicles will be met by any car maker that wants to keep selling cars.

Posted by: jcflack1 | October 1, 2010 2:20 PM | Report abuse

Remember the Clinton-Gore Partnership for a next generation vehicle (PNGV) circa 1993? goals were to..." Build a car with up to 80 miles per gallon at the level of performance, utility and cost of ownership that today's consumers demand."

THe prototype that met the requirements was a diesel hybrid electric -- combining the inherent high fuel efficiency of the diesel with the hybrid powertrain. VW had an 80+ mpg BlueMotion concept car on display at the Washington DC auto show back in January. Today's VW Jetta TDI Clean Diesel gets 42-44 highway mpg right now.

It goes to show that electric vehicles aren't the only game in town, but one of a number of more fuel-efficient choices in the future.

Posted by: aschaeffer1 | October 4, 2010 11:49 AM | Report abuse

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