Magazine article Nation's Cities Weekly

New Rule Would Change Fuel-Efficiency Standards for Light Trucks

Magazine article Nation's Cities Weekly

New Rule Would Change Fuel-Efficiency Standards for Light Trucks

Article excerpt

With the price of gasoline surging nationwide, the Bush Administration proposed a new rule to regulate the fuel-efficiency of light trucks, a category encompassing Sport Utility Vehicles (SUVs), minivans and pickup trucks.

Versus current standards, the new rule will increase the fuel efficiency of most of these types of vehicles, though the affect of the new rule will largely depend on the buying public, since the targets for fuel savings decrease as the vehicle size increases.

The proposed rule, issued on August 23, 2005, creates six categories for light trucks based on a formula that calculates the dimensions of the vehicle, unlike the current system, which bases the formula on weight. The dimension formula was used to combat the current practice sometimes employed by vehicle manufacturers of reducing the weight of a vehicle to meet the fuel-efficiency requirements, which can negatively impact the safety of the vehicle. Ideally, the new system will encourage manufacturers to use technology to increase fuel efficiency without compromising safety.

Currently, Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards divide vehicles into two categories--passenger cars and light trucks. Current regulations require cars to average 27.5 miles per gallon and light trucks to get 21.2 miles per gallon. Without reform, the standard for light trucks increases through model year 2011 to 23.5 miles per gallon.

The new rule, which will not affect CAFE standards for passenger cars, establishes gradually increased fuel-efficiency standards for model years 2008-2011, when the new standards will be fully implemented. …

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