This morning, President Obama announced a new fuel economy standard targeting 55 miles per gallon for all new cars by 2025. The current standard is 27 miles per gallon. As The New York Times reports, it’s the largest increase in the standard since the government started regulating gasoline consumption in cars in 1970. As Obama says in the Associated Press clips above, the standards promise a day when we can fill up less often, save money on fuel and reduce the country’s dependence on foreign oil because: “Just as cars will go further on a gallon of gas our economy will go further on a barrel of oil.”
And, as Times reports, major U.S. carmakers are supporting the new rules, which makes climate watchdog groups happy:
It is an extraordinary shift in the relationship between the companies and Washington. But a lot has happened in the last four years, notably the $80 billion federal bailout of General Motors, Chrysler and scores of their suppliers, which removed any itch for a politically charged battle from the carmakers.
And the auto companies have gotten a lot better at building popular small cars that are fuel efficient — thanks to gas-electric hybrids and advances in battery technology — and consumers are responding. Six of the 10 best-selling vehicles in America are small or midsize cars, and one of the most popular pickup models on the market is a Ford F-Series with a high-mileage, six-cylinder engine.
Still, the industry’s meek acceptance of what are considered extremely challenging fuel-economy goals is a marked retreat from years past, when the companies argued that consumers would not be willing to pay for the technology needed to meet higher mileage requirements.
“The auto companies’ level of vitriol and rhetoric has changed,” said Dan Becker, director of the Safe Climate Campaign, a group that works to mitigate global warming. “We welcome all epiphanies.”