Media Release

New Fuel Economy Standards Will Do Little to Reduce U.S. Oil Addiction, Says Alliance to Save Energy

Release Date: Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Washington, D.C., March 29, 2006 – The Bush administration’s new fuel economy standards for the light truck category of vehicles (SUVs, minivans, and pickup trucks) are a small step forward but will do little to help the U.S. kick what the president has called our national oil addiction and even less to help consumers cope with today’s high gas prices, the Alliance to Save Energy said today.

“While any increase in CAFE standards is positive because it will save oil,” said Alliance President Kateri Callahan, “this new standard takes baby steps when we need to be making large leaps toward lower prices, energy independence, and cleaner air.”

The new rules will slightly increase CAFE standards for minivans, light trucks, and SUVs starting in model year 2008 and will bring heavier SUVs and minivans (8,500 to 10,000 pounds) into the CAFE system for the first time starting in 2011. However, much greater fuel economy increases are possible, and if instituted they would save consumers money at the pump. Another drawback is that heavier pickup trucks – the vast majority of vehicles in that weight class – will remain outside the CAFE system.

In addition, during the 2008 to 2011 transition period, each automaker will have the option of complying with the current CAFE structure or the new “reformed” system. This means each company could, each year, opt for whichever system yields the weaker standard. Under the current CAFE structure, the new rule increases the light truck fuel economy standard from 22.2 mpg for model year 2007 to 22.5 miles per gallon for model year 2008, 23.1 mpg for MY 2009, and 23.5 mpg for MY 2010.

Under the new “reformed” structure, the standard for each manufacturer will be based on the mix of vehicle sizes it sells. Rather than establishing six size categories, each with its own fuel economy target, as proposed last August, the new rule sets fuel economy targets as a continuous function of vehicle size. Those targets are then averaged over the mix of vehicles sold by each manufacturer to set an overall fleet-wide average standard for that company each year.

Starting in model year 2011, all manufacturers would be required to comply with the new “reformed” CAFE structure. The Department of Transportation estimates that the average fuel economy for light trucks under the reformed CAFE standards in 2011 will be 24.0 mpg.