U.S. Sets Higher Fuel Efficiency Standards

DETROIT — The Obama administration issued on Tuesday the final version of new rules that require automakers to nearly double the average fuel economy of new cars and trucks by 2025.

The standards — which mandate an average fuel economy of 54.5 miles per gallon for the 2025 model year — will increase the pressure on auto manufacturers to step up development of electrified vehicles as well as sharply improve the mileage of their mass-market models through techniques like more efficient engines and lighter car bodies.

Current rules for the Corporate Average Fuel Economy, or CAFE, program mandate an average of about 29 miles per gallon, with gradual increases to 35.5 m.p.g. by 2016.

The new rules represent a victory for environmentalists and advocates of fuel conservation, but were attacked by opponents, including the Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, as too costly for consumers.

While the regulations have been in development for more than a year, the White House’s decision to make them final on the first full day of the Republican National Convention seemed intended to highlight one of President Obama’s proudest accomplishments at a time when Mr. Romney has laid out a different energy and environmental agenda.

The administration called the new rules “historic,” and estimated that Americans would reduce their oil consumption by 12 billion barrels over the course of the program. “These fuel standards represent the single most important step we’ve ever taken to reduce our dependence on foreign oil,” Mr. Obama said in a statement.

But the Romney campaign has criticized the new rules as “extreme” and said the standards would limit the choices when consumers shop for a new car. “The president tells voters that his regulations will save them thousands of dollars at the pump, but always forgets to mention that the savings will be wiped out by having to pay thousands of dollars more upfront for unproven technology that they may not even want,” said Andrea Saul, a spokeswoman for the Romney campaign.

 

 

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