April 3, 2003

NHTSA announces new fuel economy standards for light trucks

Washington, D.C. – The U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced it will increase the corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) standards for light trucks by 1.5 miles per gallon (mpg) over the next three years, thus saving more than 3.6 billion gallons of gas over the lifetime of the trucks affected.

Under the new rule, the current standard of 20.7 mpg will increase to 21.0 mpg for Model Year 2005, 21.6 mpg for MY 2006, and 22.2 mpg for MY 2007. The final rule adopts the proposed standards that were issued by NHTSA in December and apply to pickup trucks, vans, and sport utility vehicles.

“This increase represents the first increase since MY 1996 and is the greatest increase in fuel economy standards in the last 20 years,” said NHTSA Administrator Jeffrey W. Runge, M.D.
Today’s action marks the first increase in fuel economy standards since CAFE standards were frozen by Congress for six years through a provision in DOT’s annual appropriations acts.

The new fuel economy standards for light trucks are just one component of the Bush Administration’s comprehensive approach to improve vehicle fuel economy, Dr. Runge said. To encourage Americans to buy more fuel efficient vehicles, the President proposed tax incentives for the purchase of hybrid vehicles. In his State of the Union speech, the President also proposed $1.2 billion in research funding so that America can lead the world in developing hydrogen-powered automobiles.

For model years beyond those covered in the final rule, NHTSA said it plans to consider new ways to administer the CAFE program, including modifications in the classification of vehicles and methods of measuring fuel economy.

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