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December 17,  2002

U.S. Transportation Secretary Mineta Announces Proposal to Improve Fuel Economy Standards

For Model Year 2005-2007 Light Trucks

(SafetyAlerts) - In the first proposed change to fuel economy standards in many years, U.S. Transportation Secretary Norman Y. Mineta today announced that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration will seek to increase fuel economy standards for light trucks covering model years (MY) 2005 through 2007, saving approximately 2.5 billion gallons of gasoline and improving the environment.

Through a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM), NHTSA is proposing new corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) standards for light trucks. The new standards would be 21.0 mpg for MY 2005, 21.6 mpg for MY 2006, and 22.2 mpg for MY 2007. The standard would apply to pickup trucks, vans, and sport utility vehicles. A manufacturer that fails to meet the CAFE standards is subject to civil penalties.

"The Bush administration is committed to improving vehicle fuel economy while protecting passenger safety and American jobs," Secretary Mineta said.

Today's action, a key component of the President's National Energy Policy, proposes an increase of 1.5 mpg (from 20.7 mpg to 22.2 mpg) during this three-year period more than doubles the increase in the standard that occurred between MYs 1986 and 1996, when it increased from 20.0 mpg to 20.7 mpg. The standard remained at 20.7 mpg for several years due to a Congressional freeze on CAFE standards. At the President?s request, Congress lifted the freeze in December 2001.

"The proposal to establish new fuel economy standards for light trucks is just one component of the Administration's comprehensive approach to improving vehicle fuel economy," said NHTSA Administrator Jeffrey W. Runge, M.D.

Administrator Runge said today?s announcement builds on the Administration?s efforts encouraging Americans to buy more fuel-efficient vehicles in order to protect and preserve the environment. In addition to he President?s proposed tax incentives for the purchase of hybrid and fuel cell vehicles, the Administration is working to advance and accelerate the development of even more fuel-efficient vehicles in the future by funding and working with partners (research universities and the private sector) to leverage resources for research and development of new vehicle and fuel technologies, including the new fuel cell FreedomCAR initiative, hybrid vehicles, and ultra-low sulfur fuels.

Under federal law, NHTSA must establish CAFE standards for light trucks for each model year at least 18 months before it begins. A final rule establishing the new fuel economy standards will be issued by April of 2003.

Source: NHTSA

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