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The lobbying groups that are leaning on Senator Carl Levin may not like it, and the Republicans and Big Oil sure the hell won't like it, but it seems that the Obama Administration is about to get really serious about combatting climate change and striving for energy independence.

Last Updated: June 25. 2011 1:00AM

Feds set sights on 56.2 mpg by 2025

Obama administration proposal surprises Big 3
David Shepardson/ Detroit News Washington Bureau

Washington — The Obama administration is considering requiring cars and light trucks to average 56.2 miles per gallon by 2025 — a move that could boost the cost of vehicles by $2,100 or more.


The administration plans to formally propose new standards in September and finalize them by July 2012.

It estimated last fall that hiking fuel efficiency to 56 mpg by 2025 would boost the average vehicle cost by $2,100 to $2,600. But the administration said the rule would save car owners $5,500 to $7,000 over the vehicle's lifetime in fuel costs, and owners would recoup the additional up-front cost within 2.5 to 3.5 years.

The high mileage requirement would dramatically reshape what Americans drive. Currently, passenger vehicles must average 30.2 mpg and light trucks 24.1 mpg in government testing, but vehicles get far less in real-world driving.

This is a win-win proposal, imo, as it does a couple of things that would help both U.S. consumers and the Auto Industry:

#1 - It requires automakers to become more internationally competetive with the technology and quality of their cars, thus enabling more exports, thus creating more jobs.

#2 - It easily saves U.S. consumers money over the lifetime of their vehicle.

#3 - It makes the U.S. less susceptible to the whims of oil speculators, unrest in oil-producing countries, and - last but not least - the looming Peak Oil problem.

#4 - It provides a huge boost to the development of electric and hybrid vehicles.

And best of all, of course, is that Big Oil is going to hate this.  Congress can't stop this, as this is done by executive order... no Republican filibusters possible.

Senator Levin does not seem to be too enthusiastic, though:

The three had heard rumors that the administration would back 55 mpg by 2025. Despite questions, the White House aides didn't disclose the 56.2 mpg proposal for 2025. But Levin said automakers had been given a figure at the Wednesday meetings.

"There was a scenario that was placed on the table which frankly shocked me and was very different from what we were told was not in the cards — even in terms of discussions — just hours before," Levin said.

In a statement Friday, Levin said he was surprised "to learn that the administration had decided to lay down a scenario for regulation of vehicle fuel economy and greenhouse gas emissions after telling us just the day before that no 'decision' had been made relative to those issues."

He questioned the administration's forthrightness.

It's sad to see that Senator Levin would be shortsighted here and not realize that this proposal would be good for both U.S. Consumers and U.S. auto manufacturers.

If you're as excited about this as I am, please call or email Senator Levin and let him know that you support this, and that it would be good both for auto manufacturers and consumers, as well as the environment.


Patrick V. McNamara Federal Building
477 Michigan Avenue, Suite 1860
Detroit, MI 48226-2576
Phone (313) 226-6020
Fax (313) 226-6948
TTY (800) 851-0030

Originally posted to Lawrence on Tue Jun 28, 2011 at 04:37 PM PDT.

Also republished by DK GreenRoots.


Are you going to contact Sen. Levin and help to make this happen?

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Comment Preferences

  •  Hi Lawrence, good catch. (9+ / 0-)

    How about a few more tags and republish to DK GreenRoots.

    I hope this actually happens. It is a win, win, win if we include our smothered planet.

    Science is hell bent on consensus. Dr. Michael Crichton said “Let’s be clear: The work of science has nothing to do with consensus... which is the business of politics. Science, on the contrary, requires only one investigator who happens to be right,”

    by Regina in a Sears Kit House on Tue Jun 28, 2011 at 04:49:39 PM PDT

  •  Great news (8+ / 0-)

    And not only because I now don't have to vote for Crashing Vor.

    This is sooo overdue.  And it will stimulate some much needed innovation.

    "In a nation ruled by swine, all pigs are upwardly mobile." Hunter S. Thompson

    by Keith930 on Tue Jun 28, 2011 at 04:50:04 PM PDT

  •  CAFE = Corporate Average Fuel Economy (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Some cars will have to do much better than 56 mpg if some of the cars do much worse than 56 mpg .
    If some of the cars only get 30 mpg then some will have to get much more than 56 mpg and that is not going to be easy with anything that runs on fuel . With an electric , that's maybe doable . So maybe this will push electric ? Maybe every car company will see a need to build and sell electric ?

    "Drop the name-calling." Meteor Blades 2/4/11

    by indycam on Tue Jun 28, 2011 at 05:16:35 PM PDT

  •  "...but (current) vehicles get far less... (7+ / 0-)

    .... in real-world driving."   If you're driving aware, they do better than EPA numbers.  

    Ford Transit Connect (tradesman's small minivan), 2010, rated 25 mpg highway.  Actual performance yesterday (ScanGauge numbers), 34 mpg at 55 mph in smooth driving, and 30 in sluggish slow-and-go on the return trip.   Those numbers included the city legs of the trips.

    Bottom line is, you can beat the EPA numbers by just driving sensibly.  The difference in driving time between 55 mph and 65 or 70 on a 30-40 mile trip is negligible.  And slowing down means you can avoid hazards that could otherwise turn into accidents.  

    What kills fuel efficiency is city stop-and-go, which can take 5 - 7 mpg off the EPA city rating.  The solution to that, for those who have to drive, is to develop city traffic plans that provide for smooth driving even at slower speeds.   20 mph constant speed is faster than 35 in stop-and-go with badly timed lights.

    •  Hybrids and stop-go technology are really great (6+ / 0-)

      for city traffic, where they have their maximum impact.

      "A candle loses nothing by lighting another candle" - Mohammed Nabbous, R.I.P.

      by Lawrence on Tue Jun 28, 2011 at 05:23:00 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Actually . . . yes . . . (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Larsstephens, G2geek

      I've got over 31mpg life-of-vehicle (its "highway" rating) from my Scion xB in about a 40/60 mix of city/highway driving . . . it's not difficult, and doesn't require holding up traffic.  And this is with a "practical" cargo car that's aerodynamically a brick (reasonably low drag coefficient, but large flat plate area).

      The solution to stop-and-go is mild hybrid . . . that would bump my mileage in the xB up to 34-35 mpg overall with no other change, and would (would have) cost far less to add to the vehicle than $2100.

      Fake Left, Drive Right . . . not my idea of a Democrat . . .

      by Deward Hastings on Tue Jun 28, 2011 at 05:40:38 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  could even be a retrofit. (0+ / 0-)

        All of these vehicles (the old boxy Scion would be a good tradesman's micro-van too; sliding side doors would be helpful) are front wheel drive.   Therefore one could add wheel motors to the rear wheels, and run them off a battery that's recharged from the vehicle's electrical system.  

        With the right tweaks and interfaces, one could apply power to the rear wheels this way and let the IC engine coast while dealing with city stop-and-go.  The electric motors would basically serve to get the vehicle moving from each standing stop, to a speed of perhaps 5 - 10 mph, so they would not even need much of a battery pack.  

        •  That would be a major project (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          since you'd have to replace the whole rear axel assembly.  There is no way to apply drive to the wheels as it is.  It would also be difficult to smoothly synchronize the engine start/stop, which is key to stop-and-go efficiency.  It's a very nice car as it is . . . I wouldn't want to turn it into a golf cart style jerkmobile.

          Both Honda and Toyota have the electric engine-assist motor technology pretty well worked out . . . it would have been easy on the vtec engine used in the initial Scions and the Toyota Yaris.  but it was a price-point car, and they were  pushing Hybrid upscale in the Prius (for $10,000 more at the time I bought the Scion) and they clearly didn't want to dilute the brand . . .

          I'll get another 10-15 years out of the Scion . . . by then they'll have something worth replacing it . . .

          Fake Left, Drive Right . . . not my idea of a Democrat . . .

          by Deward Hastings on Tue Jun 28, 2011 at 09:05:26 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  I am getting 39.5 with my fusion (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        That is the average of all driving over the year I've had the car, including the winter when the gas engine is used more to heat the car. This is a huge improvement over the old outback it replaced and proof to me that the tech is here now. I will never buy a non hybrid this point forward.

        •  The tech is definitely here now . . . (0+ / 0-)

          it was in 2006 when I bought my Scion.  But the the Prius then (like the Fusion now) cost $10,000 more out the door for a sedan which had neither the cargo space nor rear access convenience that the xB does, and which was important to me.  The extra cost would not ever have been recouped in gas savings . . . the inability to put things like my bike inside and locked up would have bothered me every day.

          Fake Left, Drive Right . . . not my idea of a Democrat . . .

          by Deward Hastings on Tue Jun 28, 2011 at 10:24:21 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  10K is an overstatement (0+ / 0-)

            for the model I bought, and the time i bought it, it was more like 6K. and it more than pays for itself over the life of the car assuming prices stay at an average that is slightly below where they are in my area.

    •  Hyper mileing (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      I got a big limo, Lincoln Town Car up to 23.1mpg one day. My 1996 Dodge Minivan got 29.8 mpg on the way to DC to protest Bush back in '06, On the way back I drove like everyone else around me, and I got 24.5mpg. My friend with the same van never got over 26mpg......until he went for a ride with me one afternoon.

      FDR 9-23-33, "If we cannot do this one way, we will do it another way. But do it we will.

      by Roger Fox on Tue Jun 28, 2011 at 10:31:26 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  the solution is building infrastructure (0+ / 0-)

      and changing city planning to reduce the need for driving, encourage carpooling, and then lean all over business to allow workers to telecommute or to subsidize transit passes for their employees.

  •  one more thing they can do: (9+ / 0-)

    Mandatory miles-per-gallon meters in all new vehicles, with two readouts: one to show instant MPG moment-to-moment, the other to show cumulative trip MPG from engine-on to engine-off (with maybe 5 minutes of engine off before resetting, to allow for quick stops).  

    Studies constantly show that when people have MPG meters, they shift their driving habits to become more efficient over time.  Worked for me.  

    And it's also an excellent cure for speeding.

  •  A positive development (4+ / 0-)

    to be sure.  Thanks for the diary.  T/R

    Motley Moose: Progress Through Politics

    by Fogiv on Tue Jun 28, 2011 at 05:41:30 PM PDT

  •  About time (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Larsstephens, wu ming, Lawrence

    My 800 cc motorcycle gets about 56 MPG.

    Plutocracy too long tolerated leaves democracy on the auction block, subject to the highest bidder ~ Bill Moyers

    by Lefty Coaster on Tue Jun 28, 2011 at 06:01:30 PM PDT

  •  Expand CAFE standards to light trucks (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Larsstephens, jan4insight

    For years, auto-makers have been skirting the CAFE requirements by pushing SUVs and pick-ups, which aren't included under current CAFE standards. Including them in the new standard would really force auto-makers to get serious about fuel efficiency.

    Obama: At least he gives a good speech.

    by Permanent Republican Minority on Tue Jun 28, 2011 at 06:09:19 PM PDT

    •  The Obama Administration already did that in 2009 (1+ / 0-)


      # The new CAFE standards apply to model years 2012-2016 for all passenger vehicles sold in the United States, including cars, light trucks and SUVs. Significant improvements in fuel efficiency will be required of all new vehicles in 2012 model, with yearly gains of 5 percent or more in subsequent years.

      # By 2016, automakers’ passenger vehicle fleets must achieve a combined average fuel-economy standard of 35.5 mpg—39 mpg for cars and 30 mpg for light trucks and SUVs—a 40 percent improvement over current standards. The new CAFE standards also achieve the target goal four years sooner than the current law passed by Congress in 2007, which required average fuel economy of 35 mpg by 2020.

      "A candle loses nothing by lighting another candle" - Mohammed Nabbous, R.I.P.

      by Lawrence on Wed Jun 29, 2011 at 02:29:13 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  An impressive goal. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Can it be done?
    I know a little about gas engines, lithium ion batteries.
    I've seen 2012 vehicles as part of my work, talk to auto engineers all the time.
    The four cylinder engines I've seen are pretty much maxed out fuel efficiency wise. Computer controlled fuel ignition, direct injection systems. Maybe a few more MPG can be engineered, but there's no quantum leaps on the drawing boards anywhere. And lets not even talk about engine oil refinements. Those people have already jumped through hoops to make engine oils that will operate in close tolerance, high compression, high temperature environments.
    56 mph? From where the worldwide industry is now? In 13 years? Do you know the size of the Smart car? It doesn't get near 56 mph, and it's a pretty small car. Dinky, to be honest.
    Battery powered you say? Well, lithium ion batteries are about where they are right now, and that technology took a while to develop. If you follow the state of lithium metal production worldwide, it's kind of shaky. The U.S. is way from the top, as an available resource. Canada is worse. Bolivia has the most lithium, and they won't allow mining.
    And recycling lithium ion batteries? They do wear out eventually. Recycling is dangerous as hell. The last time I checked Tesla, they were freezing the used batteries in nitrogen before handling, it's that dangerous.
     Up thread there's a comment by a cyclist, saying his 800cc bike gets 56 mph. A motorcycle.
    So yes, 56 mph would be a great thing. If it can be done.

    •  I think its possible. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ladybug53, wu ming

      Its doable ( but requires intelligent engineering and small cars.  

      We have a solution and have had one for 110 years for probably at least 50% of America:  Subways in big cities, Light rail in smaller ones and good intercity rail between everything worth visiting.  Will everyone get rid of their car?  No  Will this change the fact that in rural areas owning a car is necessary?  No.  Will it limit so-called "consumer choice" No.  The hidden costs of highway-centric transportation will be more fully covered by user fees, people will make better choices.  

      Instead of mandating fuel efficiency, just slowly and steadily raise the cost of gasoline.  It will have a few advantages like promoting shorter commutes, denser more livable cities, and better public transportation.  This is a case of something is better than nothing.  

      Under capitalism man exploits man, under communism the roles are reversed.

      by DavidMS on Tue Jun 28, 2011 at 07:33:52 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  89 Honda CRX got 56 mpg hiway (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Smart car is a horrid example, please stop. It was never designed to get good MPG in the first place.......

      FDR 9-23-33, "If we cannot do this one way, we will do it another way. But do it we will.

      by Roger Fox on Tue Jun 28, 2011 at 10:36:15 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Maybe. But that's not the point. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Roger Fox

        According to, the 1989 Honda CRX HF gets 41 mpg city and 50 mpg highway, which is a few mpg shy of what you say. Maybe they're right, maybe that's an old stat.
        But we can do that all day, a couple mpg here, a couple there.
        My point is, getting the worldwide auto industry to 56 mpg in 10 years is a worthwhile goal. It's just not likely. But you go ahead, bring up any vehicle you want, any stats you want.
        And sandbagging Senator Levin, who was told something different mere hours before the announcement isn't the way to treat this respected Democratic senator from Michigan. A small point, but still.

  •  Forward to the past (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jan4insight, letsgetreal

    Back in the day (1992) we embarked on a project known as the Partnership for a New Generation of Vehicles, a gov't - industry collaboration to develop, produce, and sell to the mass market 5 passenger vehicles that would get 80 mpg within 10 years.

    By 2000 Detroit showed working prototypes, Chrysler and Ford up to 72 mpg, GM up to 80 mpg. All used diesel hybrids, there was also a GM fuel cell version of their precept. Now these were "old" EPA numbers and realistically you'd take maybe 20% off that. Still pretty good, though. (That said, my car is rated 36/42 under the old EPA and while I'm careful I'm no hypermiler and still get 45 mpg/tank).

    In 2001 the new Bush Administration killed it in the first 100 days.

    The cost to the taxpayer for PNGV was expected to be $1.25 billion dollars over 10 years (it was obviously cut short). The opportunity cost for not doing so? How about $56B?

  •  Levin's a good guy. (0+ / 0-)

    Really he is.  But you just don't get elected in Michigan unless you're protective of the auto industry.  (I am from Detroit).  I'm not saying you shouldn't be disappointed in him anyway.  You should.  But please remember, on balance, he's really one of the good ones.

  •  I prefer raising CAFE vs raising the gas tax (0+ / 0-)

    FYI the 1989 Honda CRX got 50 city, 56 mpg on the hiway.

    Just sayin....

    FDR 9-23-33, "If we cannot do this one way, we will do it another way. But do it we will.

    by Roger Fox on Tue Jun 28, 2011 at 10:16:21 PM PDT

  •  I drove a... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Lawrence, letsgetreal

    Peugeot 308 diesel automatic through France for 5 weeks in 2009.  It got 52 mpg.  I now look at the pitiful mpg's of cars sold in the US in an entirely different light.  And yes, I loved the Peugeot for other reasons, also.  I suppose with gas at something like $7.00 per gallon, the Europeans have a bigger incentive to produce cars with better mileage.

    A camel can carry a lot of gold, but it still eats alfalfa.

    by oldliberal on Tue Jun 28, 2011 at 11:22:54 PM PDT

    •  That's what auto industry lobbyists and the (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      letsgetreal, oldliberal

      Republicans often don't get.

      Gas guzzlers just won't sell in foreign markets and successful automakers can't be limited to just the domestic market.

      "A candle loses nothing by lighting another candle" - Mohammed Nabbous, R.I.P.

      by Lawrence on Wed Jun 29, 2011 at 02:27:17 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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