WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama announced an agreement Friday between his administration and 13 car companies to increase fuel-efficiency standards for cars and light-duty trucks to 54.4 miles per gallon by model year 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,” Obama said.
The agreement builds on the Obama administration’s 2010 agreement requiring model year 2012 to 2016 vehicles to achieve 35.5 miles per gallon. The new efficiency standards will save a typical family more than $8,000 and the nation $2 trillion in fuel costs over time,Obama said. By 2025 it will reduce the amount of oil used by 2.2 million barrels per day.
Executives from Ford,General Motors,Chrysler,BMW,Honda,Hyundai,Jaguar and Land Rover,Kia,Mazda,Mitsubishi,Nissan,Toyota and Volvo joined the president on stage at the city’s convention center in front of models of the companies’ latest hybrid and fuel-efficient models.
“These are some pretty tough business guys. They know their stuff,” Obama said. “And they wouldn’t be doing it if they didn’t think that it was ultimately going to be good business and good for America.”
Members of Congress from Michigan,California and Massachusetts were in the audience,as was Washington Mayor Vincent Gray. The president acknowledged California’s leading role in establishing fuel efficiency standards and the economic stake Michigan has in the success of American automotive manufacturing.
“There is much cause for celebration,” Rep. Nancy Pelosi,D-Calif.,said in an interview. “I think this is very significant.”
Automotive executives also expressed support.
“This long-term commitment allows us to invest in technology and everything we need,” Sue Cischke,Ford Motor Co. group vice president of sustainability,environment and safety engineering,said in an interview. “That certainty is really important to us.”
Cischke said that the agreement will encourage automakers to develop varied technology for different car models,providing consumers with many fuel-efficient car choices.
John Mendel,Honda executive vice president of auto sales,said technology will become more complex and that his company has always produced efficient cars.
“The future’s going to be very exciting for the industry,” he said in an interview. “From a consumer standpoint,it’s an exciting time to be around. I think it’s a huge advantage to the American public.”
Among the companies Obama cited for their work in improving fuel efficiency technology is A123 Systems,which makes advanced lithium ion batteries used in electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles for consumer cars,transit buses and other vehicles.
Andy Chu,vice president of marketing and communications,said the agreement will benefit the company by encouraging automakers to produce vehicles that run on electricity rather than gasoline.
“Vehicle electrification is a big area of growth in the transportation sector,” he said. “The electric vehicles are more fuel efficient and they produce less CO2 per mile traveled.”
The shift away from coal-powered electric grids to solar and wind-powered systems means that electric vehicles will become increasingly better for the environment,Chu said.
“Electric vehicles are the only cars on the road that get cleaner the longer you drive them,” he said.
Obama noted that the efficiency standards agreement was reached without legislation by competing car companies,and suggested their cooperation could serve as a “valuable lesson” for members of Congress who were at an impasse over raising the federal debt ceiling.
“As we look to close the deficit,this agreement is a reminder of why it’s so important that we have a balanced approach,” he said. “We’ve got to make serious spending cuts while still investing in our future; while still investing in education and research and technology like clean energy,which are so important for our economy.”
Reach reporter Rebecca Koenig at [email protected] or 202-326-9867
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