President Obama will change America as we know it with new fuel rules
He and members of his administration have put plans in place to create a national program that will dramatically improve efficiencies for automobiles sold from 2017 to 2025.
“This agreement on fuel standards represents the single most important step we’ve ever taken as a nation to reduce our dependence on foreign oil,” President Obama said in a presentation he delivered around lunchtime.
“Most of the companies here today were part of an agreement we reached two years ago to raise the fuel efficiency of their cars over the next five years. We’ve set an aggressive target and the companies are stepping up to the plate. By 2025, the average fuel economy of their vehicles will nearly double to almost 55 miles per gallon.”
The president was joined on stage today at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington by Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson, several auto executives and UAW President Bob King. These individuals have signed onto and been instrumental in achieving this historic agreement. The participating auto companies are also providing advanced technology vehicles to display at the event.
“These standards will help spur economic growth, protect the environment and strengthen our national security by reducing America’s dependence on foreign oil,” LaHood said. “Working together, we are setting the stage for a new generation of clean vehicles.”
President Obama (pictured) spoke to an audience of 250 people, including representatives from the auto companies, UAW employees, environmental leaders, union representatives and members of Congress.
Thirteen companies were represented today, including Ford Motor Co., General Motors, Chrysler, BMW, Honda, Hyundai, Jaguar / Land Rover, Kia, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Toyota and Volvo. Together these companies account for more than 90% of all vehicles sold in America. Volkswagen told TN reporter Richard Gray that the German carmaker does not support the program as it was presented today.
But U.S. officials are happy with what in general is compliance from the auto industry. “This is another important step toward saving money for drivers, breaking our dependence on imported oil and cleaning up the air we breathe,” said Jackson, administrator of the EPA.
“American consumers are calling for cleaner cars that won’t pollute their air or break their budgets at the gas pump, and our innovative American automakers are responding with plans for some of the most fuel-efficient vehicles in our history.”
OEMs appear excited by the challenges ahead.
"Honda embraces this new challenge and we welcome the competition we will have with other automakers that will result from these new standards, because it will benefit both our customers and the health of the planet," John Mendel, American Honda executive VP of sales, told reporters after the announcement.
Toyota said it will work "constructively" with President Obama and his team.
"The long-term objectives of this program are very ambitious, and we intend to meet the challenge," said James Lentz, president of Toyota Motor Sales USA.
"Toyota has embarked on the most aggressive expansion of hybrid, electric and hydrogen fuel cell cars of any automaker, and we are committed to continuing our demonstrated environmental leadership. We share the administration’s goal of achieving major advances in clean, fuel efficient vehicles. Obviously, there is still a great deal of uncertainty as to how the market will respond and what vehicle technologies consumers will embrace, which is why we are rolling out and testing a range of alternative fuel options."
Because the 54.5 mpg standard has been put in motion by President Obama, a Ceres report released today says consumers will save $107 billion in fuel costs in 2030. Had the standards reached 60 mpg, which was the highest standard sought, the savings would have been estimated at $152 billion.
A total of 484,000 new full-time jobs would be a spin-off effect, the report says, including 43,000 new jobs in the auto industry. The number of jobs was projected higher earlier in the day, but Ceres revised the numbers after the specifics of the Obama plan were revealed.
"As manufacturers of and investors in the technologies that make strong CAFE standards possible, we applaud the administration for striking a deal that sets an ambitious fuel economy target," Tim Greeff, political director for the Clean Economy Network, an advocate for "the development of a clean economy," said today after the announcement.
"While we believe a stronger standard is technologically feasible and cost-effective, we are confident that achieving 54.5 mpg by 2025 will create American jobs, unleash technological innovation and make the U.S. auto industry more competitive."
States projected to see the most job growth, according to Ceres research, are Indiana, Michigan, Alabama, Kentucky, Tennessee, Ohio, North Carolina, New Hampshire, Vermont, Oregon, New York and Missouri. That's why there will be such a heavy Michigan delegation at the president's announcement today.
In a statement released this afternoon, General Motors praised the Michigan politicians for their efforts. The statement said, in part: "While future fuel economy targets are ambitious, the proposed CAFE rule represents a national approach and provides regulatory certainty for our industry. Additionally, the proposed rule includes flexibility that recognizes consumer needs and potential changes in technology and economic conditions. GM appreciates the strong, bi-partisan support of Michigan's congressional delegation which helped bring about an agreement that recognizes how vital auto manufacturing is to America's future jobs and economic growth."