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Greenhouse Gas Cutting Rules Extended to 2025

WASHINGTON (CN) - Car and light truck makers will have to nearly double fuel efficiency by 2025 to meet stringent new emissions and fuel economy standards proposed by two agencies.

The Environmental Protection Agency and the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration plan to extend rules adopted in 2010 for model years 2012-2016, which would require a corporate average fuel efficiency (CAFE) of 35.5 mpg by 2016, and result in an average light vehicle tailpipe carbon dioxide (CO2) level of 250 grams per mile. President Barack Obama had ordered the standards.

The proposed program for MY 2017-2025 passenger cars and trucks reduces fleet average CO2 emissions to 160 grams per mile by 2024 and would require a CAFE standard of 54.5 mpg if all reductions were made through fuel economy improvements. However, manufacturers are expected to use other methods besides improved fuel efficiency to lower CO2 emissions so that by 2025 fuel efficiency would have to improve to about 49.6 mpg.

To meet that target, fuel efficiency would have to improve by 4.1 percent per year from 2017 to 2021 and then increase to 4.3 percent per year from 2021 to 2025, for passenger cars.

Recognizing that manufacturers are currently having a hard time improving the fuel efficiency of pick-up trucks without reducing their power, the agencies have set a lower fuel efficiency improvement target of about 2.9 percent per year. However, manufacturers will have to make up for that lower target on the back end when light truck fuel efficiency will have to improve by 4.7 percent from 2021 to 2025.

While the agencies believe that all electric vehicles like the Nissan Leaf have "game-changing potential" with regard to CAFE standards, they said they expect 80 percent of increases in fuel efficiency and reductions in CO2 emissions to be achieved through advances in gasoline powered vehicles.

The agencies say the stricter standards would save consumers an average of up to $6,600 in fuel costs over the lifetime of a model year 2025 vehicle for a net lifetime savings of up to $4,400, after factoring in related increases in vehicle cost.

The agencies are accepting public comment on the proposed standards until Jan. 3, 2012.

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