Automakers must meet 2016 35.5 MPG fleet average

The Obama administration will unveil national tailpipe emissions standards and mileage requirements Tuesday, which will force automakers to dramatically boost the efficiency of vehicles by 2016 to a fleet-wide average of 35.5 miles per gallon, but also give them a single national standard.

The program will cost automakers $1,300 per vehicle, a senior administration official said — a move that could cost automakers $13 billion to $20 billion annually based on total auto sales. That's $600 ahead of the prior planned fuel efficiency increases.

Under a compromise, California and 13 other states' efforts to impose a 30 percent reduction in tailpipe emissions are to be essentially adopted by the Obama administration and extended to the rest of the country. The federal government will set mileage standards that are consistent with those emissions requirements — 39 mpg by 2016 for cars and 30 mpg for light trucks.

Administration officials said the new requirements would save 1.8 billion barrels of oil and eliminate 900 million metric tons of greenhouse gases — equivalent to taking 177 million cars and trucks off the roads.

The move will force automakers to average 35.5 mpg overall by 2016 — four years ahead of a congressional deadline and require the companies to boost efficiency by an average of 5 percent per year. It is the first-ever U.S. regulation of tailpipe emissions, rather than simply setting fuel efficiency standards.

But Congress is planning to offer automakers billions more to help them meet the requirements. A revised 942-page version of a climate change bill released late Monday doubles to $50 billion a program to offer low-cost retooling loans to automakers and parts producers to help produce more fuel-efficient models. [Editor's Note: Sell more plug-in electric cars and build more nuclear power plants. Fleet average can then be over 100 MPG. Problem solved.]

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