Carmakers may be required to almost double the fuel economy of their vehicles in the U.S. to 62 miles per gallon by 2025 under a proposal being weighed by the Obama administration, according to environmentalists.
The administration may announce as soon as today a goal to raise fuel economy 3 percent to 6 percent a year starting with 2017 models, according to Dan Becker of the Safe Climate Campaign, who said in an interview he had knowledge of the administration deliberations. That would push the level to 62 mpg, according to Becker and Roland Hwang of the Natural Resources Defense Council.
Environmentalists are pressing for more aggressive fuel-economy targets after President Barack Obama in a rule last April required automakers to meet 5 percent annual increases, building to 35.5 mpg for 2016 models. In May, Obama ordered his administration to release a time line and potential targets for 2017-2025 models.
“It should be 6 percent because that is consistent with the best technology,” Becker, director of Washington-based Safe Climate and former head of the Sierra Club’s global-warming program, said in the interview yesterday. “It’s auto mechanics. It can be done and has to be done.”
Olivia Alair, a Transportation Department spokeswoman, declined to comment on potential mileage targets. The department includes the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which helps craft the mileage standard.
Representatives of the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, the Washington trade group for companies including General Motors Co., Chrysler Group LLC and Ford Motor Co., declined to speculate on the targets the administration may announce.
“We’re hopeful that the notice recognizes the challenges and the cost associated with introducing advance-technology vehicles,” said Charles Territo, the alliance spokesman. “It is important that manufacturers have the necessary lead times needed to implement new technologies at an affordable cost.”
By releasing a target range, the administration would signal its plans for fuel-economy targets, while crafting of a final rule with specific goals for light vehicles is still months away.
The Natural Resources Defense Council, based in New York, has conducted an analysis showing a 60 mpg standard can be set with a U.S. vehicle fleet that is 55 percent hybrids, 15 percent plug-in electrics and 30 percent advanced-gasoline cars, said Hwang, the group’s transportation program director.
“There’s pretty much a widespread expectation that the proposal will include a range of 3 to 6 percent,” Hwang said. “Our own analysis shows the higher end is achievable.”