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Pres. Obama Pushes for More Fuel-Efficient Trucks

Cites cost benefits for consumers, along with impact on climate change.

by on Feb.18, 2014

Trucks like these will be getting significantly better fuel economy in the years ahead.

President Barack Obama wants to markedly improve the fuel-efficiency of both medium- and heavy-duty trucks, a move that he says will address global climate change even while reducing costs for consumers.

The president announced the new move during an appearance today at a grocery distribution center in suburban Washington, a map of the U.S. behind him.  It is one of a series of steps Obama plans to take, with or without the support of a divided Congress.

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“Improving gas mileage for these trucks is going to drive down our oil imports even further,” the president said during his visit to a Safeway facility in Upper Marlboro, Maryland. “That reduces carbon pollution even more, cuts down on businesses’ fuel costs, which should pay off in lower prices for consumers. So it’s not just a win-win. It’s a win-win-win.”

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White House Locks Down 54.5 MPG Fuel Economy Standard

“Single most important step” to reduce dependence on foreign oil, says President.

by on Aug.28, 2012

The new mileage standards appear to have solid public support -- especially as gas prices resume their upwards surge.

Bouncing back from an unexpected delay, the Obama Administration today formalized a more than 50% increase in federal automotive fuel economy standards.

Even with automakers struggling to meet the 2016 Corporate Average Fuel Economy, or CAFE, target of 35.5 miles per gallon, the industry will now face a 54.5 mpg goal for 2025.  That figure is the result of extensive debate between industry, environmentalists and government regulators.

But there had been questions raised, earlier this month, when the White House unexpectedly delayed the release of the official rules.  The 2025 CAFE proposal, like much of Pres. Barack Obama’s energy policy, had come under fire from a Republican party set to formalize Mitt Romney as its presidential nominee this week.

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“These fuel standards represent the single most important step we’ve ever taken to reduce our dependence on foreign oil,” the President declared in a statement accompany the release of the new mileage regulations.

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Obama Reveals New Mileage Standards; Garners Broad Support

Industry, consumer, environmentalist groups largely heap praise on 54.5 mpg compromise.

by on Jul.29, 2011

Few expected the fuel economy compromise that was announced by Pres. Obama today - at least not anytime soon.

With many of the nation’s automotive leaders surrounding him at the White House, President Barack Obama revealed details of the unexpected compromise that will set the nation on a course of drastically improved automotive fuel economy over the next decade-and-a-half – something he dubbed “the single most important step we’ve ever taken as a nation to reduce our dependence on foreign oil.”

The new Corporate Average Fuel Economy standard demands that manufacturers deliver a fleet average of 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025, roughly twice the fuel economy of the typical vehicle being sold in the U.S. when the current administration came to power in January 2009.

While some environmentalists had hoped to push the figure to 56.2 or even 62 mpg, the final number is significantly higher than what industry lobbyists had been campaigning for – in fact, barely a week ago, an automotive lobbying group was preparing an advertising campaign designed to thwart the White House push for a new CAFE standard.

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Instead, as demonstrated  by the presence of top executives — including General Motors’ Dan Akerson, Jim Lentz of Toyota Motor Sales USA, Ford’s Alan Mulally and Hyundai Motor America’s John Krafcik – the industry came onboard with very public support, triggering praise from the president, who declared that while the new 54.5 mpg number is “an aggressive target…the companies here are stepping up to the plate.”

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Obama, Automakers Agree on New Mileage Rules

Announcement expected at White House on Friday.

by on Jul.28, 2011

President Obama is expected to announce a compromise on fuel economy standards during a Friday White House news conference.

The contentious debate over the nation’s future fuel economy standards has ended, industry leaders and government regulators reportedly coming up with a compromise that President Obama is expected to announce at the White House on Friday.

The changes, according to inside sources, will provide the industry a bit of breathing room on the light truck side – though not by much.  The compromise is expected to call for the industry to meet a target of 56.2 miles per gallon with passenger cars and 54.5 mpg for light trucks by 2025.  Currently, automakers are aiming for 35.5 mpg in 2016.

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The new rules are expected to call for a two-stage phase-in, with mileage for passenger cars rising 5% annually while light trucks would see fuel economy climb 3.5% a year from 2017 to 2021, then by 5% through 2025.

Administration spokesman Jay Carney confirmed that the changes to the Corporate Average Fuel Economy, or CAFE, standard is expected to save jobs and improve market demand while also reducing oil consumption and pollution.

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Automakers Launching Ad Campaign Attacking 56.2 MPG Proposal

Industry radio spots to warn of threat to economic recovery.

by on Jul.18, 2011

Will the ads sway consumers in favor of industry concerns or rally support for higher mileage standards?

The auto industry is going on the attack – a trade group launching a radio campaign this week aimed at shooting down the big increase in federal fuel economy standards being proposed by the White House.

The 60-second commercials, produced for the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, will argue that boosting the Corporate Average Fuel Economy, or CAFE, standards to 56.2 mpg in 2025 “threatens (the) progress” of the auto industry’s fragile recovery – and could force Americans out of the big cars and trucks they love and into small, limited-use electric vehicles.

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The industry campaign could present another headache to the Obama Administration, which is currently focused on hammering out a compromise with the Republicans on a bill to increase the nation’s debt ceiling.  But the automotive alliance also risks alienating consumers who are worried about the impact of near-record fuel prices and who, surveys show, are demanding big increases in fuel economy.  Mileage, a senior Ford official last week acknowledged, is the single most important concern for most American car buyers this summer.

But the Alliance ads will target an equally serious public concern: jobs.  A recent study by the Ann Arbor, Michigan-based Center for Automotive Research warned that such a big increase in the federal mileage requirements could tack up to $10,000 onto the price tag for the typical American automobile.  In turn, the CAR study warned, that could reduce by a third total American car sales and cost hundreds of thousands of auto industry jobs in the U.S.

The industry ads will launch Tuesday and air in seven markets, notably including Michigan and Washington, D.C.

The copy proclaims that, “After tough times, today’s automobile industry is on a highway to recovery.”  But it warns that the proposed increase in fuel economy “threatens that progress” and might not only result in sharply higher prices, but also in an “electric car mandate.”

Not everyone agrees with the industry’s contention.  Environmental groups, such as the Union of Concerned Scientists, have argued that the automakers are using scare tactics – the same moves that kept fuel economy rules from increasing through much of the ‘90s and first decade of the new millennium.

They also are criticizing the industry for talking about a turnaround that, for at least some makers, was taxpayer-funded. “We give GM billions of dollars, and what do taxpayers get in return? Opposition to a process that will clearly save them income and give them improved cars,” said consumer activist Ralph Nader.

Proponents of a sharp increase in federal mileage standards have their own data to point to, a new study by the Boston Consulting Group that predicted the industry could achieve big gains for just about $2,000 a vehicle – a figure the study’s authors noted would readily be recovered on fuel savings – especially if gas prices continue to rise.

White House May Back Down on 56.2 MPG Fuel Economy Proposal

Compromise could mean lower requirement for light trucks.

by on Jul.15, 2011

President Obama during a visit to Detroit.

Compromise seems to be the watchword for the White House, and even as the president continues to seek consensus on a bill raising the federal debt limit it appears the administration might also aim for an acceptable alternative to the 56.2 mpg fuel economy standard it floated several weeks ago.

While already below the original proposal of 62 miles per gallon in 2025, the numbers still didn’t add up for most automakers.  Only Hyundai, of all major manufacturers, had indicated its belief it might even be able to come close.  Industry lobbyists gained a strong ally in their fight in the form of the United Auto Workers Union, which argued that a significant increase in the Corporate Average Fuel Economy, or CAFE, standard could cost potentially 100s of thousands of jobs.

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While Washington still appears to be set on the 56.2 mpg number for passenger cars, which would be a 5% annual increase over the 2016 standard of 37.5mpg, it is now raising the possibility of a reduced standard for light trucks.  A report in the Wall Street Journal quotes sources who say the requirement for SUVs, pickups and other trucks would climb only 3.5% annually.

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62 MPG Standard Could Add $10,000 to Cost of New Car

New study warns of sales collapse, loss of jobs.

by on Jun.15, 2011

To save fuel American motorists might have to spend heavily on new automotive technology, warns a new study.

With federal regulators studying the possibility of raising the Corporate Average Fuel Economy, or CAFE, standard to as much as 62 miles per gallon, a new study warns that such a move could increase the cost of the typical American automobile by as much as $10,000.

The report, by Ann Arbor, Michigan’s Center for Automotive Research, or CAR, also warns that annual automotive sales could tumble by as much as 5.5 million units, with motorists choosing to hang onto their existing vehicles longer rather than pay a steep price hike that will be difficult to make up in fuel cost savings.  In turn, said the CAR study, that could cost as many as 265,000 U.S. jobs.

“The risk,” warned the new report, “is serious.”

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But the new report is sharply contrasted by another study released this week which found that it might cost as little as $2,000 to adapt to a 62 mpg study, largely by adopting new technology to improve the time-tested internal combustion engine, rather than trying to switch to more advanced battery or hydrogen propulsion systems.

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Americans Back 60 MPG Goal

New report claims majority want big mileage bump.

by on May.17, 2011

Americans want fuel economy standards bumped to 60 mpg, according to a new survey.

Despite strong opposition from the industry, Americans weary of watching gas prices soar now want a near doubling of automotive fuel economy standards.

Nearly two-thirds of those polled by Opinion Research Group favored raising the Corporate Average Fuel Economy, or CAFE, standard to 60 mpg by 2025.  The White House has been considering a bump to 62 mpg, though anticipated changes in fuel economy rules have been delayed since Republicans took control of the House last November.

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Even with surveys revealing consistent consumer support for raising fuel economy standards, such measures have long lagged.  After an extensive delay, the Obama Administration finally won enough industry backing to push the long-frozen 27.5 mpg mandate to 35 mpg by 2016.  But despite hailing the industry/government alliance, there has been little support for going further, at least within the industry, the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers  asking the EPA – which oversees fuel economy – to wait until new studies have been completed.

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