New Standards Mean New Future for American Fleet

Sep 04, 2009
New higher mileage and emissions standard set forth by the Obama administration are set to change the nature of the American auto fleet in the near future.  The new rules take effect in 2012 and are to be fully achieved by 2016, and will mean and end to the days of large, inefficient vehicles as a mainstay of American life.

Under the new standards
, the average fuel economy of an American vehicle will have to be 35.5 miles per gallon, 10 mpg more than today.  Passenger vehicles will be required to get 39 mpg, and light trucks must step up to 30 mpg.   This translates to a fundamental change in the nature of our vehicles. Cars and trucks will have to be made smaller, lighter, and overall more efficient.

These changes will have a large impact on the way people purchase and use work and personal vehicles.  Eric Fedewa, vice president of global powertrain forecasting for auto consulting firm CSM Worldwide, predicts that pickup trucks will become so much more expensive that they will be almost exclusively used for work.  And families will have to make new choices as SUVs become obsolete in the wake of passenger vehicles like the Mazda 5 small van.

Some consumers are concerned about the change’s effect on their businesses. Dixie Bishop, who runs a plumbing business in San Antonio, worries the new requirements will drive up her costs at a time when customers are cutting back on repairs. She asked, “Are they going to take my horsepower down? I have to be able to carry old water heaters and toilets. It’s not beneficial for me to haul one water heater at a time. We need the power to pull these heavy items.”

Changes will begin with smaller vehicles and improvements to the internal combustion engine, and will soon branch out into many other venues, including hybrid and electric vehicles.  But with fuel prices still relatively low, consumers may not be ready to invest in hybrids that sacrifice performance for efficiency.  When gasoline reached 4 dollars a gallon last year, sales of hybrid vehicles skyrocketed. Now that prices are down to just over 2 dollars, the efficient vehicles are barely selling.  The administration is confident that the higher price tags of the newer vehicles, an average of about $1,300, will be recouped in gas savings over three years.

Photo courtesy of eviltomthai under the Creative Commons License.