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Obama Suggests 56.2 mpg for Fleets by 2025

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June 28, 2011 by   Leave a Comment

The Obama administration is suggesting a fuel-economy standard of 56.2 miles per gallon average for an automaker’s whole fleet by 2025, boosting the price of a new vehicle at least $2,100, the government calculates.

As reported by USA Today, that rating in EPA testing, converted for real-world driving, would translate to a window-sticker rating of about 37 mpg for combined city/highway driving. The best gasoline-electric hybrids already beat that, and some gas-only small cars are close, rated 33 or 34 mpg in city/highway driving.

The 56.2 target “is not a very heavy lift,” argues David Friedman, vehicles specialist at the Union of Concerned Scientists, which favors 62 mpg.

General Motors North American President Lloyd Reuss called a 56.2 fleet average “very challenging” but said automakers should “dig in and support things that enable clean air and fuel economy and unleveraging ourselves from foreign oil.”

Hyundai spokesman Jim Trainor, while declining to comment directly on 56.2 mpg as a new standard, noted that CEO John Krafcik often says that “50 is do-able with a lot of hard, smart work.”

The number emerged after White House talks last week with U.S. automakers, the United Auto Workers union and lawmakers. Foreign automakers are to be briefed this week.

A new regulation won’t officially be proposed until September. The range being considered is 47 to 62 mpg.

A 56.2 standard, “while not as ambitious as the level we have been advocating, is a doubling in fuel efficiency from today’s average passenger vehicle and would cut drivers’ fuel bills in half,” notes Roland Hwang of the Natural Resources Defense Council environmental group.

The current rule requires automakers to average 35.5 mpg by 2016. Credits for carbon-cutting air conditioning coolant make that close to 34 mpg in EPA tests, meaning a window-sticker rating of about 25 mpg in combined driving. The government adjusts lab test results to get what it believes drivers actually achieve, and that is the number that goes new car price stickers.

Friedman says the air-conditioning credit could cut 56.2 to 50 mpg, or about 37 mpg on the window sticker after the “real-world” adjustment.

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