For the first time, passenger cars and light trucks will have to comply with federal greenhouse gas emissions standards.
The Department of Transportation and the Environmental Protection Agency jointly announced new rules April 1.
The rules mean that car manufacturers will be able to build a single, light-duty national fleet that satisfies all federal requirements as well as the standards of California and other states. California’ rules also were adopted by Quebec.
Canada also is aligning its national fuel standards rules with the U.S. effort, reports CTV.
The rules are set to phase in over the next five to six years and should save the owner of the average 2016 model year car $3,000 in fuel costs over the life of the vehicle. Nationally, the effort is estimated to save about 1.8 billion barrels of oil and slash almost a billion tons of greenhouse gas emissions.
The rules, first proposed in September, resulted in a deluge of 130,000 public comments, most of which DOT and EPA said showed “overwhelming support for the strong national policy.”
Starting with 2012 model year vehicles, automakers must improve fleet-wide fuel economy and reduce fleet-wide greenhouse gas emissions by about five percent a year.
By 2016, fleets will have to average 34.1 mpg.
Credits for air-conditioning improvements can be used to meet the EPA standards, but not the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration standards. Therefore, the EPA will require that by the 2016 model-year vehicles must achieve a combined average emission level of 250 grams of carbon dioxide per mile.
That essentially means the EPA standard would be equivalent to 35.5 miles per gallon if all reductions came from fuel economy improvements.
The new standards are likely to add $900 to the cost of each vehicle by 2016, reports AP.
Gloria Bergquist, vice president of the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, said the new rules “gives us a clear roadmap for future fuel economy increases. We have a hill to climb, and it’s steep, so we will need consumers to buy our fuel-efficient technologies in large numbers to meet this new national standard,” reports the Washington Post.