From: Andy Soos, ENN
Published May 24, 2010 03:46 PM

Clean Up the Trucks

About a year ago the President and car company CEOs, announced the first Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards for cars and light trucks that took into account greenhouse gas emissions as a factor. The move ordered a 30 percent increase in fuel efficiency by 2016, totaling a 35.5 miles per gallon average for both cars and light trucks. This past Friday’s directive ordered federal agencies to begin development of even more stringent standards for 2017 and beyond. Though big rigs represent less than five percent of all vehicles on U.S. highways, they consume more than 20 percent of the total of transportation fuels utilized. Truck fuel consumption tends to be presently less than 10 miles per gallon which makes them comparatively fuel inefficient.


President Obama last month brought out new standards for cars and light trucks for the 2012-2016 model years that aimed at reaching a fleet average of 35.5 miles per gallon by 2016, nearly 10 miles per gallon more than now (@25% improvement in fuel efficiency).

The standards after 2016, as Obama has just proposed, will include heavy trucks and an even higher average fuel efficiency.

With these higher fuel efficiency standards, there will be reduced air emissions (including carbon dioxide) and reduced national dependency on foreign oil supplies. Also expected will be the increased use of hybrid vehicles and electric battery cars.

Obama is not expected to announce specific new mileage goals, but rather initiate steps toward developing new higher standards and to call for progress on next generation and electric vehicles.

For future consumers, it would mean cars and trucks that go much farther on a tank of gas, though with a higher upfront cost.

For the auto industry, uniform national standards are preferable to a state by state approach that has been a threat ever since California started pushing years ago to be allowed more stringent standards than the federal government imposes.

Assuming that the present vehicle use continues (with the new emission standards of 2012 to 2016), there will be significant reductions in air emissions and savings in gasoline consumption for the consumer. The Union of Concerned Scientists estimated:

* Reduce U.S. oil consumption by 1.2 million barrels per day by 2020;

* Cut global warming emissions by 209 million metric tons of carbon dioxide in 2020, the equivalent of taking nearly 31 million of today's cars and light trucks off the road that year;

* Save drivers $34 billion in 2020 even after they pay the cost of vehicle technology improvements. (This is based on $2.75 per gallon.).

There will be a significant cost in retooling for the automotive industry to do all this.

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