[Update: Reuters is reporting that the government will give electric cars an initial zero emissions rating "as an incentive for industry to mass produce them" intially. Reuters also states that "the first 200,000 vehicles produced by each manufacturer will be given a zero emissions rating. After that, the rating of the vehicle will reflect the upstream greenhouse gas emissions associated with charging the vehicles."]
In what could possibly be the best boon the emerging green cars market has seen to date, the the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today announced “new federal rules that set the first-ever national greenhouse gas emissions standards and will significantly increase the fuel economy of all new passenger cars and light trucks sold in the United States.” It is estimated that by 2016 an average car buyer under these new regulations will save “$3,000 over the life of the vehicle and, nationally, will conserve about 1.8 billion barrels of oil and reduce nearly a billion tons of greenhouse gas emissions over the lives of the vehicles covered.”
Under the new rules rolling out in 2012 from joint decision making by the EPA and the DOT’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), automakers will be required to “improve fleet-wide fuel economy and reduce fleet-wide greenhouse gas emissions by approximately five percent every year.” New fuel economy standards established will strengthen each year so that they reach “an estimated 34.1 mpg for the combined industry-wide fleet for model year 2016,” while new EPA standards require that by 2016 manufacturers must achieve a combined average vehicle emission level of 250 grams of carbon dioxide per mile. This latter item would reportedly be “equivalent to 35.5 miles per gallon if all reductions came from fuel economy improvements.” As for how to meet this, the government points out that “although the standards can be met with conventional technologies, EPA and NHTSA also expect that some manufacturers may choose to pursue more advanced fuel-saving technologies like hybrid vehicles, clean diesel engines, plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, and electric vehicles.”
Most, if not all, major auto manufacturers seem to be welcoming these new rules set forth today. A statement put out by the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, a trade association of 11 car and light truck manufacturers, said that “automakers today welcomed the final release of coordinated NHTSA and EPA regulations for fuel economy and greenhouse gas emissions, saying the national regulations mark the beginning of a new integrated approach to reducing automobile fuel use and carbon emissions.” The group said that, in fact, it is already on this path due to this year alone there being “nearly 200 models are on sale that achieve 30 miles per gallon or greater on the highway, almost a 50% increase over last year.”
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