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U.S. Proposes New Energy Plan for Future Auto Regulations

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On: Wed, Sep 29, 2010 at 12:01PM | By: Sherry Christiansen

U.S. Proposes New Energy Plan for Future Auto Regulations

In breaking automotive news today, the Obama administration is planning a new proposal that will regulate fuel efficiency and emissions guidelines for cars and light trucks starting in 2017.

The White House budget office is currently reviewing the plan that is a focal point of Obama’s energy agenda aimed at reducing U.S. dependence on foreign oil supplies. While the results will not be released until Thursday, experts in the environmental field are projecting that government regulations will be set at a range of an average increase in fuel economy by 3%-6% per year starting in 2017. The Obama administration has made it clear that regulations will be more aggressive than the automotive industry has experienced in the past.

The astonishing facts are that the United States, home to only 5% of the world's population, is currently consuming 44% of the oil supplies and producing 25% of the world's greenhouse gas emissions. The average car puts out 6 tons of pollution in the air every year in the form of carbon emissions.

Environmental and scientific groups, as well as The Consumer Federation of America, have been lobbying for a reduction in oil use by nearly half of the country’s current rate of 9 million barrels per day, which would reduce carbon pollution by more than 500 metric tons by the year 2030, according to a recent Automotive News report. Federal regulators would need to impose new fuel efficiency rates of 60 mpg in order to achieve those aggressive standards. Last year’s energy plan required automakers to achieve only 35.5 mpg by 2016.

Although the United States has made some significant strides towards emissions efficiency, its energy efficiency policy still trails behind Europe and Japan which are 2 countries that are the most advanced in automotive fuel efficiency and emissions reduction.

Brendan Bell, lobbyist with the Union of Concerned Scientists, told Automotive News that he feels the 60 mpg standard is aggressive, but; “the 2017 target gives automakers plenty of time to assess the initial impact of electric models and make other adjustments.” Bell stated: "They have a ton of time to plan it out and develop technology."

Major automakers are concerned about being mandated to make changes that would cause a major increase in vehicle production cost. According to Charles Territo, spokesperson for the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers: “"What we're hoping for is that the regulation recognizes some of the uncertainty that still exists and allows flexibility to implement new technologies."

Many vehicles, such as those made by Toyota Motor Corp., already exceed the 2016 standard. If the electric cars are widely accepted by consumers, the EV market could explode, due to the exceedingly high fuel economy combined with zero emissions that electric vehicles realize. Thus, many of the major auto companies, such as GM and Nissan, have been putting their future development plans into technology for the design of electric cars, such as the Chevy Volt and the Nissan Leaf.

While many factors are still very much up in the air when it comes to the future of energy guidelines for automobiles sold in the United States, one thing is sure: change is on the horizon.


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