Reports Says Obama’s Fuel Economy Increase to Save $69 bil Annually

NRDC notes surge in high-mileage models already on the road.

by on Apr.20, 2012

With its high-mileage EcoBoost engine, a new study says the 2012 Ford Explorer is already savings owners $1000s on gas.

The recently-enacted 54.5 mile per gallon fuel economy standards will save American motorists an estimated $69 billion annually, according to a new report that suggests the Obama Administration’s push for improved fuel economy is already saving many drivers thousands of dollars.

With a big jump in fuel economy scheduled for 2016 and another by 2025, the Natural Resources Defense Council, or NRDC, stressed that the auto industry is already rolling out a substantial number of new, higher-mileage products that are not only saving consumers money but reducing dependence upon foreign oil.

The report, titled, “Relieving Pain at the Pump: Thanks to Stronger Standards, Consumers Have More Fuel-Efficient Choices”, noted that the number of subcompact cars sold in the U.S. market getting at least 30 mpg has tripled since 2009, to 15.

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The number of midsize models rated 25 mpg jumped from just six in 2009 to 10 during the 2012 model-year.  Meanwhile, the count of crossovers getting at least 20 mpg, meanwhile, has doubled, to 32.  And the report stresses that fuel economy is rising rapidly across the automotive market.

“Drivers today have twice the fuel-efficient car options than just three years ago,” said Luke Tonachel, senior vehicles analyst at the Natural Resources Defense Council. “The technology — and fuel savings — are only going to improve thanks to even stronger efficiency standards.”

A new 2012 Ford Explorer driven by the maker’s turbocharged four-cylinder EcoBoost engine can deliver up to 23 mpg, about six miles per gallon better than the comparably powered V-6 in the prior-generation Explorer.  That works out to a savings on gas of about $5,700 over a five-year ownership cycle, the NRDC projected.

“From pickups to SUVs to minivans to cars, automakers are squeezing more out of vehicles with conventional gasoline engines than ever before,” said Alan Baum, of Baum & Associates, which contributed to the study.

According to the NRDC study, the 54.5 mpg standards will yield substantial savings, an average of $4,400 through lower fuel bills over the life of a typical vehicle.  And that’s despite the anticipated higher costs of meeting the new Corporate Average Fuel Economy numbers.

Of course, the actual figures may vary, perhaps widely.  Just exactly what it will take to meet the 2025 target remains a matter of intense debate.  Some proponents have put the figure at just a few $1000 per vehicle.  Critics, such as the Michigan-based Center for Automotive Research, has argued that motorists might see price hikes of closer to $10,000.

There is, however, general agreement that the industry will need to continue pressing for more breakthroughs that can improve the efficiency of the internal combustion engine and related technologies, such as transmissions, while vehicle weight is becoming an industry-wide target.  What remains uncertain is just how much more of a role electric propulsion will play by the time the 54.5 mpg target is in place.

The new NRDC study looks at projected savings state-by-state and Texas leads the list at an anticipated $7.8 billion, followed by California, at $7.3 billion, and Florida, at $6.7 billion.

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