The evolution of the American transportation industry took another step forward today when the Obama administration finalized historic fuel economy standards for cars and light-duty trucks. Starting in 2025, the minimum fuel efficiency for all new models will be 54.5 miles per gallon.
The increased standards will nearly double current fuel efficiency, which is expected to save Americans $1.7 trillion dollars while decreasing oil consumption by 12 billion barrels.
In a statement, President Obama said:
“These fuel standards represent the single most important step we’ve ever taken to reduce our dependence on foreign oil. This historic agreement builds on the progress we’ve already made to save families money at the pump and cut our oil consumption. By the middle of the next decade our cars will get nearly 55 miles per gallon, almost double what they get today. It’ll strengthen our nation's energy security, it's good for middle class families and it will help create an economy built to last.”
Fuel efficiency has been an issue the President has made significant strides in since he took office in 2009. In his first year, the President's administration announced plans to raise fuel standards to 35.5 miles per gallon for all cars and light-trucks made between 2012 and 2016. This plan was instituted last year.
The effects of this change have already been felt. As Frances Beinecke from the National Resources Defense Council reports, there are now 57 fuel-efficient vehicles being offered to consumers in showrooms across the nation -- up from 27 in 2009. Industry is now producing record-efficient vehicles, and Americans are rewarding them for it. A recent Consumers Report survey shows fuel economy is the primary concern of consumers.
Additionally, the evolution of advanced vehicle technologies -- hybrid and electric cars -- has led to a re-birth of sorts for America's automobile manufacturing industry. More than 150,000 men and women have jobs make components for advanced vehicles. The auto industry has seen its work force grow 236,600 since 2009.
Escalating fuel prices has become a major worry for Americans. Since 2009, gas prices have risen by nearly one-third -- jumping from $2.60 per gallon in August 2009 to more than $3.70 in August 2012. Given the ever-growing discrepency in consumer demand for oil versus supply, prices are unlikely to stop rising.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that families purchasing a vehicle in 2025 will save the equivalent of $1 per gallon as a result of the new standards. This is expected to cut America's oil consumption by 2 million barrels per day, about half of what the United States currently imports from OPEC nations.
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