While Congress passed the first increase in corporate average fleet fuel economy (CAFE) in 32 years way back in 2007, there was a lot left undeclared in that bill. Two years ago, the agreement was made that CAFE would rise to 35 mpg by 2020, but just how and when that would happen was not set in stone. This past January, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said that the Obama Administration and the Department of Transportation "are poised to move quickly on new fuel economy standards for passenger cars and light trucks." Quickly meant two months, apparently.

The Obama Administration announced today that, for the 2011 model year, the new standard for cars and light trucks will be 27.3 mpg. For cars, the average is 30.2; the number for trucks is 24.1. The combined number is an increase of two miles per gallon (eight percent) compared to the 2010 model years, but most automakers will not need to change their product lineup just yet. In fact, the average fuel economy for new cars was 31.3 mpg in 2007. While this year is a bit of a reprive, the 35 by 2020 requirement means that future increases could be harder to meet. NHTSA says that the 27.3 number will "save about 887 million gallons of fuel and reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 8.3 million metric tons." The DoT is already working on the timetable for increases in the following years, LaHood said. You can download the new rule here (PDF link).

[Source: NHTSA, Bloomberg, Green Car Advisor]
Photo by ricardodiaz11. Licensed under Creative Commons license 2.0.