Tuesday, July 19, 2005

New Gas Mileage Standards

Instead of extending daylight savings time for an extra two months, as is currently included in the final draft of the energy bill being finalized in the House, why not just improve fuel efficiency in vehicles that leave plenty of room for improvement, like SUV's?

According to today's WSJ,

The Bush administration is preparing new fuel-economy regulations for light trucks and sport-utility vehicles based on size, with smaller vehicles required to achieve higher gasoline mileage than larger ones, industry officials and safety and environmental advocates said yesterday.

The rules, if adopted, would represent the most significant change in how the government gets auto makers to make their vehicles more fuel efficient in three decades, since the Corporate Average Fuel Economy, or CAFE, system was adopted.

The current system rates manufacturers on how their entire light-truck fleets perform, calculating the average fuel economy achieved. During a transition period, auto makers would have the choice of following the old rules -- albeit with higher thresholds -- or the new rules. After a few years, all companies would have to comply with the new system.

Here's the timeline for implementation:
The proposal, developed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, is now before Secretary of Transportation Norman Mineta, who will send it on to the White House Office of Management and Budget. A special OMB task force will review the proposal before it is formally proposed in the Federal Register, probably next month.

A final rule for light trucks must be adopted by April 1, 2006, if it is to apply to the 2008 model year. That means a proposal must be published within the next month or so in order to leave time for public comment and for the agency to consider those comments before finalizing the matter, administration officials say.

The current system tends to favor companies including Honda Motor Co. that principally manufacture small SUVs and trucks that have little trouble meeting the current standard. By contrast, companies like Ford Motor Co. and General Motors Corp., which make large pickup trucks and SUVs that get poor mileage, have to work hard to be sure they sell enough small, more fuel-efficient vehicles to make up for the big guzzlers.

Under the current standard, a manufacturer's light-truck fleet must achieve an average of 21 miles per gallon for the 2005 model year, a standard that is already slated to rise to 22.2 mpg for 2007.


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