New Fuel Standards For Light Trucks.

New fuel economy standards for light trucks will save 10.7 billions of gallons of fuel and include, for the first time ever, the largest sport utility vehicles, Transportation Secretary Norman Y. Mineta announced today in Baltimore, MD.

The changes to the fuel economy standards represent the second time the Bush Administration has increased the mileage standards for light trucks and the first complete reform of the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) program for pickup trucks, sport utility vehicles and minivans since its inception in 1979, Mineta said.

"The new standards represent the most ambitious fuel economy goals for light trucks ever developed in the program’s twenty-seven year history," Secretary Mineta said. "And more importantly, they close loopholes that have long plagued the current system".

Mineta said the new rules save two billion more gallons of fuel than an earlier proposal released in August, 2005 by including the largest SUVs and strengthening the final miles per gallon target.  The new standards also set individual miles-per-gallon goals for all passenger trucks sold in the United States, requiring manufacturers to install fuel saving technology on all passenger trucks.

In addition, the light truck fuel economy standards will save more than 250 million gallons a year just by including the largest sport utility vehicles on the market today, those that weigh between 8,500 and 10,000 pounds. Mineta said these large SUVs will be included in the CAFE program starting in 2011, adding that "we worked hard to make sure that no single SUV gets a free pass under these new standards".

The new fuel economy standards also strengthen the miles-per-gallon target for light trucks, Secretary Mineta said. The light truck targets will increase from 21.6 to 24 miles per gallon, the highest level ever for the program. Mineta added that more was being asked of automakers because they now have to factor in 240,000 of the least efficient SUVs for the first time.

"We took a good, close look at automakers’ plans, examined new technology that is in use or under development – like hybrids and the latest generation of diesel-burning engines – and decided that we could ask more of the manufacturers than we proposed last August," Mineta said. He added that the new standards mean that some light trucks will now have to meet a fuel economy target of 28.4 milers per gallon, which is higher than today’s standard for passenger cars.