Obama unveils new car efficiency standards

Jul 29, 2011 by Tangi Quemener
General Motors vehicles go through assembly in Detroit
General Motors vehicles go through assembly after GM celebrated the official launch of the Chevrolet Volt hybrid electric vehicle at GM's Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly in Detroit, Michigan, 2010. US President Barack Obama on Friday unveiled a new deal with automakers on fuel economy standards that he said would be a crucial step towards reducing US dependence on foreign oil.

US President Barack Obama on Friday unveiled a new deal with automakers on fuel economy standards that he said would be a crucial step towards reducing US dependence on foreign oil.

Obama -- flanked by the heads of , and Chrysler as well as chiefs of and -- said the new miles-per-gallon requirements would help people save money, with now "killing folks at the pump."

"This agreement on fuel standards represents the single most important step we've ever taken as a nation to reduce our dependence on foreign oil," the US president said in a speech at a convention center in the nation's capital.

"By 2025, the average fuel economy of their vehicles will nearly double to almost 55 miles per gallon," or 23.4 kilometers per liter, he said.

"We’ve set an aggressive target, and the companies here are stepping up to the plate."

The program builds on initiatives unveiled in May 2009 that were aimed at both increasing gas mileage and decreasing greenhouse gas pollution for new cars and trucks -- the first such policy at the national level.

By 2016, the fleet average fuel consumption for US vehicles will be raised to 35.5 miles per gallon from the 25 miles per gallon seen in 2009.

Most passenger cars must reach 39 miles per gallon by 2016, and light trucks must satisfy fuel consumption regulations of 30 miles per gallon.

The companies joining Obama for Friday's announcement put some of their most fuel-efficient models on display for the occasion.

US gasoline prices have nearly reached historic levels since the start of the year due to market jitters over popular revolutions in oil-producing states across the Middle East and North Africa including Libya.

Obama said gasoline was "just another added expense when money is already tight" and while he acknowledged high prices were "not a new problem," he also admitted there was "no quick fix to the problem."

The president's approval rating has slumped as Americans face tough times, with the economy slow to recover and unemployment still high in the wake of the recession that ended in 2009.

Obama said the new efficiency standards would push to develop new hybrid products and engine technologies, noting: "That means new jobs in cutting-edge industries all across America."

He paid tribute to what he called the "extraordinary progress" of the "Big Three" US automakers, two of which -- GM and Chrysler -- were saved by the government in 2009.

"After a period of painful restructuring, with the federal government lending a helping hand to two of the Big Three American automakers -- we’re seeing growth and a rise in sales, led by vehicles using new, more fuel-efficient technologies," Obama said.

"That tells us that these standards are going to be a win for consumers, for these companies, for our economy, for our security, and for our planet."

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that_guy
not rated yet Jul 29, 2011
i understand why they had and article on this yesterday, and then the same thing, plus obama's press conference with the big 3 today...but i still think its ridiculous. The big policital fight over regulation of fuel economy is still going strong on yesterday's article.
socean
3 / 5 (2) Jul 29, 2011
I find all this scandalous. We're talking about targets 14 years from now. Google has robotic cars on the road today. To plan for a continuation of the current situation, where humans kill each other by the tens of thousands driving cars themselves is heinously irresponsible. A mere 55 mph would be laughable if it weren't also so grotesquely diabolical. Never mind the enormous benefits of reducing the overall number of vehicles needed, eliminating the need for parking lots, service stations, multi-lane highways, and all the costs and mayhem associated with keeping ever increasing numbers of cars on the road.

This is clearly a bid to short sell Americans into a continuation of the status quo, where big corporations work in cahoots with each other continue to concentrate wealth and power.

Come on physorg readers, you're supposed to know better! Revolt!
joefarah
4 / 5 (4) Jul 29, 2011
"US gasoline prices have nearly reached historic levels since the start of the year due to market jitters over popular revolutions in oil-producing states"

Wait a minute... oil is $95/barrel, down from $115 a few months ago, but gas prices have stayed relatively flat as the jitters settle.

Gas prices are high because the oil companies want to continue quarter-over-quarter record profits. That's all.

Otherwise.. good article.
Eikka
1 / 5 (1) Jul 29, 2011
The gasoline prices in US are still extremely cheap, compared to the rest of the world where the prices reach up to $10 a gallon.

That's the reason why the fleet average is so low. It's not the first priority of people to demand and buy efficiency over safety, utility, size and luxury. When the consumers count their dollars and compare what's the best they can get and what they want, this is the result.

The new efficiency standards simply put the cart in front of the horse and make the people compromize one thing over another, against their will.

For what end? Cheap gasoline.

To prolong the reign of gasoline powered cars, to provide the industries with cheap fuel so they don't have to invest in energy saving measures, so the car industry doesn't have to invent a new wheel, so you don't have to invest in alternative energy sources and infrastructure.

Not yet. Just a decade more until the current top hats have cashed in and bailed themselves out. Let the next generation solve it.
GoodElf
1 / 5 (1) Jul 29, 2011
Unfortunately such increases in "efficiency" will only lead to increased demand of the resource (in this case oil). Google "Jevons Paradox"... it has been long realized since 1865 that making motor vehicles more efficient effectively lowers the price of the fuel and thus increases overall demand(without the astute application of specific Government Tax Mechanisms to "cool" consumerism). This efficiency drive, while I personally agree in principle with the idea of using resources sparingly, plays directly into the hands of the Oil Moguls by driving up demand and using the resource faster while at the same time accelerating Global Warming and allowing less resourced countries to join in this "feeding frenzy" on the remaining resource... all this just before the lights all go out forever.

What we really need right now is an alternative non-fossil carbon based resource for energy.
Decimatus
2 / 5 (3) Jul 29, 2011
You guys are missing the point here. Raising efficiency standards raises engine cost.

Continue raising the engine cost until electric cars are at an advantage and the market will make the shift by itself.

By the time fuel standards hit 55MPG, the mass exodus will have already begun.
Newbeak
1 / 5 (1) Jul 30, 2011
Unless the boneheads in DC get their act together,there might be no point in efficiency standards.If the U.S. goes into default,the result would make the Great Depression look like a tea-party..
ted208
1 / 5 (1) Jul 31, 2011
Bonehead Obama stated: "under my administration energy cost will necessarily skyrocket" Good on you Obama it's come true.
Obama is a one term disaster. just like Bush was a two term fiasco. We need some sanity leading our government instead of these neocon war mongers or control freak left wing Idialogs. They are both bad for America!