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Drive to Historic New Fuel Efficiency Rule Began in California

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After nearly three decades of stagnant vehicle fuel efficiency, we are now on a path, under federal standards just finalized, to achieve fuel efficiency of 54.5 miles per gallon (mpg) for cars, SUVs and pickups by 2025. This is nearly double today’s average. The Obama administration was joined by automakers, environmental groups, and organized labor in supporting the higher targets. Yet it was the California Air Resources Board (ARB) and 13 other states that first aggressively pursued for tough standards that both increase efficiency and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

“Thanks in part to state leadership, we are heralding a historic leap in federal fuel efficiency that reduces our dependence on foreign oil and saves drivers money at the gas pump,” said Phyllis Cuttino, director, Pew Clean Energy Program. “These standards are among the strongest in the world and provide businesses certainty well into the next decade. This policy accomplishment is the result of collaboration among government agencies, industry and other stakeholders, including California ARB.”

Mary Nichols, board chairwoman, explained, “I am extremely proud of the leadership role California played in helping to lay the groundwork for the new federal greenhouse gas standards. Our forward-thinking policies and innovative companies will ensure that our state continues to be a leader in providing ultra-clean cars that people enjoy driving and that also save them money at the pump.”

Gary Guzy, deputy director of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, added,  “These historic new fuel efficiency standards will promote American innovation, dramatically reduce our greenhouse gas emissions, and save American consumers billions of dollars at the pump, all while significantly reducing our dependence on foreign oil. They are a tremendous accomplishment, made possible because diverse stakeholders were willing to work together to take this step that is good for our economy, good for our energy security, good for industry, and good for American consumers.”

Most everyone can relate to fuel efficiency. How much—or how little—it costs us to drive our cars and trucks, especially when budgets are tight, can make an enormous impact on our sense of financial well-being.

Click for the infographic

Driving to 54.5 MPG

Take the summer months, a time when many Americans embark on road trips. If the standard of 54.5 mpg had been in place, drivers would have saved at least $123.3 million during the peak Labor Day weekend. Or, to put it another way, consumers would save up to $6,600 in fuel costs over the life of a 2025 vehicle built under the new requirements, compared with a 2010 model.

With savings like this, it’s no surprise that Consumer Reports National Research Center found in a recent survey that fuel efficiency is the No. 1 priority for new car buyers. American drivers will finally be able to go farther on a tank of gas because of higher mileage standards.

Cuttino added, “The whole economy wins because of innovation and new product development, giving drivers more choice when shopping for a fuel efficient car or truck.”

Pew and CleanTECH San Diego on Aug. 28 hosted a discussion on the new federal rule and benefits to California businesses and consumers.  The event featured Mary Nichols, chairwoman, California Air Resources Board; Gary Guzy, deputy director, White House Council on Environmental Quality; and Maj. Gen. Anthony Jackson (ret.) U.S. Marine Corps; Mike Lewis, principal, Pearson Fuels; Dave Grundstrom, chairman and CEO, Marvin K. Brown Auto Center, Inc.; and David Johnson, president and CEO, Achates Power, Inc.


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