Mixed feelings about the new US mileage

Is this the end for SUVs ?Yesterday were announced by President Obama the new mileage requirements for US vehicles. This is important as they hadn’t changed for decades. The average mileage will reach 35.5 MPG by 2016 compared to roughly 25 nowadays.

This seems to be a lot but it isn’t when one knows that European cars will be required to get 47 MPG by 2012. I was thus previously stating that American cars should get 50 MPG by 2015.

In any case, this will save huge amounts of oil and of greenhouse gases emissions. It is also believed it will open the way to more on climate change mitigation in the United States.

Here are some excerpts of Associated Press’ article on the event:

Obama’s proposed change in rules would for the first time combine pollution reduction from vehicle tailpipes with increased efficiency on the road. It would save 1.8 billion barrels of oil through 2016 and would be the environmental equivalent of taking 177 million cars off the road, said senior administration officials speaking anonymously, ahead of the announcement.

New vehicles would be 30 percent cleaner and more fuel-efficient by the end of the program, they said.

(…) Under the changes, the overall fleet average would have to be 35.5 mpg by 2016, with passenger cars reaching 39 mpg and light trucks hitting 30 mpg under a system that develops standards for each vehicle class size. Manufacturers would also be required to hit individual mileage targets.

Even if this wasn’t enough for good news, the story continues. To the New York Times’ article :

(…) Yet there is more to come. The troubled auto industry is at the front end of a wave of changes driven by President Obama’s determination to put the United States on a fossil fuel diet. The administration is moving on multiple fronts, from the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed finding that heat-trapping gases are a threat to health and the environment to the sweeping cap-and-trade legislation moving through Congress.

Taken together, these measures may create markets for fuel-efficient cars, change how Americans heat and light their homes and, ultimately, decide what industries will rise and fall.

On Tuesday, Mr. Obama gathered the chief executives of 10 auto companies from around the world in the Rose Garden to announce his proposal for a single national fuel-efficiency standard of 35.5 miles per gallon by 2016, a nearly 40 percent increase from today’s level. Also in attendance were environmental advocates, officials from California and Michigan and cabinet members who worked on the plan.

Mr. Obama praised the car companies’ willingness to cooperate in the effort, saying it marked a sharp reversal. “You know, in the past, an agreement such as this would have been considered impossible,” he said.

(…) Mr. Lentz said consumers’ swift reaction to record gasoline prices last summer was an important factor in the industry’s embrace of higher fuel standards. “The industry woke up to the fact last year that when gas hit $4.50 a gallon, consumers were going to demand better fuel economy,” he said.

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