DOT and EPA mandate 54.5 mpg average fuel economy by 2025

DOT and EPA mandate 54.5 mpg average fuel economy by 2025Cars and light trucks will have to achieve an average 54.5 mpg by 2025, the Department of Transportation and the Environmental Protection Agency announced today. The two agencies claim the new average, a second step beyond the 35.5 mpg mandated by 2016, will save consumers $1.7 trillion in fuel costs by 2025.

A 54.5 mpg average is expected to reduce oil consumption by 12 million barrels, and eliminate six billion metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions, by the end of the first quarter of the 21st century.

Consumers are expected to save over $8,000 at the pump over the life of a new 2025 model year vehicle, but that car or truck is projected to cost $1,800 more than a new vehicle of today.

“The fuel efficiency standards the administration finalized today are another example of how we protect the environment and strengthen the economy at the same time,” EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson said in a press release.

Both agencies assert that the new fuel economy standard will help carmakers, even though they will have to work harder to squeeze more efficiency out of their cars and trucks.

“With today’s rule, we have given American manufacturers the regulatory certainties they need to build efficient cars of all types that consumers want today and in the future,” they said. “That’s why our rule has the support of 13 major automotive manufacturers, who build 90% of the cars sold in the U.S.”

In a separate statement, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said the new regulations will create jobs by forcing carmakers to be more innovative and add more new models to their lineups.

The new regulations will probably require some head scratching, but the DOT and EPA both feel they are reasonable and attainable. In addition to getting support from carmakers, the agencies noted that they consulted with consumer groups, unions, and environmental groups when writing the rules. They say the technology to achieve 54.5 mpg already exists.

The EPA, for one, seems to be banking on the full spread of existing green automotive technologies. The agency will give unspecified “incentives” to carmakers for developing electric, plug-in hybrid, natural gas, and hydrogen fuel cell powertrains. The incentives will also go toward hybrid powertrains for pickup trucks, and any technology that can reduce real-world fuel consumption.

The new regulations were released in draft form last year. Since then, the agencies have ramped up the requirements for cars to compensate for a slower increase in truck and SUV fuel economy, which is a tougher nut to crack technologically.

The two agencies will evaluate the carmakers’ progress in five years to see if the 54.5 mpg by 2025.