Obama orders new car-fuel standards

US president Barack Obama ordered the struggling American auto industry to make more fuel-efficient cars under tough new national standards to cut emissions and increase petrol (gasoline) mileage, Reuters reported. Obama said the standards would reduce the country’s dependence on foreign oil and provide five years of cost certainty to an industry battling to survive.

Under the new standards, passenger vehicles and light trucks must average 35.5 miles per gallon (6.2 litres per 100 kilometres) by 2016. Obama said the new standards would save 1.8 billion barrels of oil over the lifetime of the programme — the equivalent of taking 58 million cars off the road for a year.

“The status quo is no longer acceptable,” he said, adding that the new standards are the start of a national transition to a clean-energy economy. Obama has made fighting climate change a priority, and the US congress has begun wrangling over legislation that many hope will provide broader guidelines for controlling the greenhouse-gas emissions linked to climate change.

While the programme is expected to add about US$1,300 to the price of producing a vehicle, Obama said car buyers would recoup the money through the lower fuel costs realised under the improved mileage standards. The industry itself is staying afloat through federal bailouts and restructuring at the government’s direction.

The plan also resolves a long-running dispute between the federal government and the state of California, which sought a waiver from federal law to impose its own tough standards on emissions. That action could have led to a mix of different state regulations.

See full story