The 54.5 mpg target is double the average fuel efficiency of today's US vehicle fleet. Automakers and environmentalists endorsed the new standards, but some Republicans decried the regulatory burden.
Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP
US vehicle fleets will need to average 54.5 miles per gallon beginning in 2025, about double the level today and one automakers had for years declared was impossible, according to new fuel-efficiency standards set Tuesday by the Obama administration.
The new standards – endorsed by automakers as facilitating long-term planning and lauded by environmentalists as leading toward a cleaner energy future – were nevertheless deplored by some Republicans in Congress as burdensome.
As part of its program to improve fuel economy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the administration previously set a goal of 35.5 miles per gallon by 2016.
Tuesday’s move vaults the energy-saving engine technology bar yet again for automakers – and for individual consumers, who are projected to save thousands of dollars at the gas pump on their way to cutting US oil consumption by about 700 million barrels per year.
“These fuel standards represent the single most important step we’ve ever taken to reduce our dependence on foreign oil,” President Obama said in a statement. “This historic agreement builds on the progress we’ve already made to save families money at the pump and cut our oil consumption."
By the middle of the next decade, US vehicles will on average achieve almost double the mileage they do today, Mr. Obama noted. Besides strengthening US energy security, the move was "good for middle-class families" and would boost the economy, he said.
That statement was backed up by automakers. After decades of resisting such steps, US-based automakers – whose sales are strong at present – seemed in lock step in saying the new standards would help them make better investments by creating greater regulatory certainty rather than having to meet clean-air rules on a state-by-state basis.