18 Feb 2014 More

President Obama to Set New Fuel Standards for US Trucks

posted by Unknown @ 07:27 0 Comments

Image of the president announcing new fuel standards
President Obama is set to direct new federal agencies to developing increased fuel standards for both heavy and medium-sized trucks over the next two years.  The step is intended to have a two-pronged effect, both to decrease dependency on foreign imports and to help reduce carbon emissions which can be harmful to the environment.  The announcement will be made in Upper Marlboro, Maryland, a major distribution center for the Safeway grocery chain. 

President Obama’s administration has already directed that automakers double the average fuel economy of light trucks and new cars by the year 2025 to almost 55 MPG.  These new rules took effect in 2012.  Now the president is setting his sites on making medium-sized and heavy-duty trucks more gas efficient as well.

The new rules will build on already existing ones for the larger-sized trucks and will be spearheaded by the EPA which will be in charge of developing the new requirements itself.  These new rules will be directed at current models 2014 to 2018.

The move by the president seeks to circumvent Congress, which he believes has been dragging its feet on the issue.  "Unless and until we do more to combat carbon pollution that causes climate change, this trend is going to get worse," says President Obama.

New fuel standards are on the way

New minimum requirements will also be a welcome relief to US motorists, who have seen gas price s as much as triple over the past five years alone.  A move toward energy independency would only be strengthened by an increase in fuel economy to most all vehicles large and small.

Working in conjunction with the EPA will be the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which answers to the Department of Transportation.  These new fuel standards are scheduled to go into effect by no later than March 31, 2016.

Right now heavy-duty trucks account for just 4 percent of all registered vehicles on the road.  Even so, they still produce 25 percent of all carbon emissions.  The Obama administration believes that the United States can cut its oil consumption by as much as 530 million barrels per year.  That’s more than is imported each year from Middle Eastern countries like Saudi Arabia.

It is believed by the administration that the new standards will as much as double fuel efficiency in light vehicles and trucks by the year 2025.  Fuel consumption could be reduced by as much as 2.2 mmbopd, much of that of course imported.

The new plan calls for a 20 percent reduction in fuel consumption for heavy-duty trucks.  Vans have been targeted with a 15 percent reduction.  The larger of vehicles like buses, delivery trucks, and garbage trucks would be required to run more fuel efficient by 10 percent.

According to the administration, this could lead to $50 billion in saving for the American consumer, money that can be spent elsewhere and a good portion of that can be kept right here in the USA, ultimately helping to create more jobs.

Current rules for CAFÉ, the Corporate Average Fuel Economy, are already set for 29 MPG.  This is scheduled to increase to 35.5 MPG by the year 2016.  Former transportation secretary Ray Lahood stated back in 2012, when the new regulations were first handed down, that it should save Americans as much as $1.7 trillion in fuel costs, or $8000 per vehicle through the year 2025.

Consumers will see savings over the long haul

Savings should offset the initial sticker shock for the new vehicles, and over time will actually show the consumer an overall savings.  This will help stimulate sales in the automotive industry and create new jobs.

“Compliance with higher fuel-economy standards is based on sales, not what we put on the showroom floor,” says the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers.  But concern from auto dealers reveals that they are worried this will shut out as many as 7 million new car buyers from the market.

Higher fuel efficiency is Job-1 when it comes to most automakers, even as manufacturers like Nissan are increasing their interests in electrical vehicles.  While electric cars may be a major player on down the road, the facts are that electric models make up just a tiny fraction of overall sales now and into the foreseeable future.

Also in the works, a push to reduce the overall weight of most vehicles.  By decreasing the engine size itself and improved aerodynamic designs, most experts believe this can be achieved.

“The vast majority of vehicles will be more efficient without using electric or hybrid powertrains,” says Daniel F Becker, director of the Safe Climate Campaign. “These cars won’t look any different than today unless you check under the hood.”

Auto manufacturers can take lesson from the Germans

There may be some pushback from consumers for smaller engines and less power, especially in the medium-size to heavy-duty truck range.  But others are quick to point out that smaller engine size does not necessarily have to mean less power.  Take German manufacturers like Mercedes-Benz and BMW for instance.  Both these companies run on consistently smaller engine size overall from their American counterparts, yet have increased overall power at the same time.

There are many lessons that can be learned from European auto manufacturers where the high cost of gasoline has been in play for decades.  Now that the cost for a gallon of gasoline has risen for Americans (and seems to be there to stay), most industry experts believe that consumers, after the initial sticker shock of these higher-priced vehicles wears off, will begin changing the way they see it, especially after realizing such long-term savings.

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