Automakers agree to historic gas mileage standards

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wwltv.com

Posted on July 29, 2011 at 10:17 PM

Updated Saturday, Jul 30 at 8:34 AM

Monica Hernandez / Eyewitness News

NEW ORLEANS- The average price for a gallon of regular unleaded is more than a dollar higher than this time last year, according to gasbuddy.com.

For Troy Pfeiffer, that meant extra sacrifices when it came to a road trip from Illinois to New Orleans.

"We had to plan a couple months ahead, save money, just to pay for the gas to get down here," said Pfeiffer.

Pffiefer said his wallet takes a $70 to $80 hit every time he fills up his SUV, which gets less than 20 miles per gallon on the highway.

"Doesn't get very far these days," said Pfeiffer.

But Friday, President Obama announced an agreement with 13 major automakers that would nearly double the fuel economy of their vehicles by 2025. The standard car or light truck would get almost 55 miles per gallon.

Obama called the target "aggressive," but said companies were stepping up to the plate.

"This agreement on fuel standards represents the single most important step we have overtaken as a nation to reduce our dependence on foreign oil," said Obama.

The agreement is a compromise between Obama and automakers upset by the cost of building fuel efficient cars.

Many already market a fuel-efficient model. The most recent Toyota Prius gets 51 miles per gallon on the highway. The Nissan Leaf uses no gas at all; it's set to hit Louisiana in December.

Riley Thompson, a new car sales manager at a New Orleans East Toyota dealership, said increased gas prices are driving demand for fuel efficient cars.

The new standards will make them the norm.

"I would venture to say down the road, we're going to have show rooms full of these vehicles," said Thompson as he pointed to a hybrid. "It's the future. It is the future."

The EPA said the plan will cut oil consumption by more than 2 million barrels a day by 2025, and save Americans $1.7 trillion in fuel costs over the next 14 years.

 

"It is for them, for the kids later on, we need that, for the economy itself to get better, we need something like that," said Pfeiffer.

The new rules expand on a previous agreement with automakers. For model years 2012 to 2016, fuel efficiency standards will increase to 35.5 miles per gallon.

The EPA said the program will cut more than 6 billion metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions over the next 14 years.

 

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