Increasing the Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards for model year 2017-2025 cars to 54.5 miles per gallon was first proposed in July 2011. Since then, there has been a lot of back and forth, a lot of positiveand negative responses, and, lately, a delay for unknown reasons. Since the CAFE rules were not changed between the mid-1980s and when President Obama came into office and rules for 2012-2016 model year vehicles were put in place in 2010, it's not a huge surprise this update took so long. That's all over now.

Department of Transportation secretary Ray LaHood and Environmental Protection Agency administrator Lisa Jackson announced the official finalization of new federal fuel efficiency standards in a Tuesday conference call. Some headline numbers from the call:
  • The reduced fuel use will save American families over $1.7 trillion dollars in fuel costs.
  • Vehicles on American roads will use two million barrels of oil less per day by 2025, "as much as half of the oil we import from OPEC each day."
  • More efficient cars will be more expensive, but LaHood said that the buyers can expect average fuel savings of $8,000 per vehicle (over the life of the vehicle) for a 2025 model year car compared to a similar vehicle from 2010, using today's prices. That's equivalent to gas being a dollar a gallon cheaper.
  • You like lower emissions? The new standards will "reduc[e] emissions by 6 billion metric tons over the life of the program – more than the total amount of carbon dioxide emitted by the United States in 2010."
We've heard a lot of those numbers before, but there were some items in the press release (not addressed on the call) that caught our eye. Specifically:

The program also includes targeted incentives to encourage early adoption and introduction into the marketplace of advanced technologies to dramatically improve vehicle performance, including:
Incentives for electric vehicles, plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, and fuel cells vehicles;
Incentives for hybrid technologies for large pickups and for other technologies that achieve high fuel economy levels on large pickups;
Incentives for natural gas vehicles;
Credits for technologies with potential to achieve real-world greenhouse gas reductions and fuel economy improvements that are not captured by the standards test procedures.

We don't know how these incentives stack (or don't) with current incentives or if they're just the ones already in place, but we've put in a call to the EPA to find out. We'll let you know when we hear back. A sample of early responses to the official rules – all positive, so far – is available below.
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