US Driving Fuel Efficiency Standards Higher

Posted July 29th, 2011 at 11:25 am (UTC-5)
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Cars and trucks sold in the United States will be required to use half as much fuel as they do now under a new agreement being rolled out by the White House.

President Barack Obama and leaders of the world’s largest automakers announced new, higher fuel efficiency standards Friday. The agreement calls for the average vehicle to get 23.2 kilometers per liter by 2025, twice as much as the current requirements.

In the meantime, the average fuel efficiency for cars will have to increase by 5 percent a year and by 3.5 percent for light trucks.

The agreement gives automakers credits for making battery-powered vehicles, hybrids and other alternative fuel vehicles.

Mr. Obama said the agreement is important to the future of the U.S. economy and will help save consumers money while also creating jobs.

Major automakers fought past attempts to dramatically increase fuel efficiency standards, saying the increased costs would scare off would-be car buyers and hurt sales. They are backing this plan after the Obama administration spent $80 billion bailing out the auto industry during the height of the global recession.

The president said rising gas prices have been forcing some families to find ways to cut spending since they have no choice but to drive to work and to take care of their children. He said it was critical that the U.S. reduce its consumption of oil because demand, spurred by developing economies, is rising much faster than supplies.

The world’s largest automaker backed the new requirements in a written statement.

Toyota USA President James Lentz called the plan ambitious but said Toyota intended to meet the challenge. But he also said there is still “a great deal of uncertainty” about how consumers will react to the new standards and about which type of fuel-efficient technology consumers will embrace.