Bill Increases Fuel Standards 4% Annually

by : Jenny Mclane

The temperature is getting hotter in the Congress not only because of global warming issues but because of the burning fuel standards proposals. Proposals come one after the other. And today, a key lawmaker will introduce a bill that requires automakers to increase fuel economy standards by four percent annually.

The proposed bill by U.S. Rep. Ed Markey, D-Mass., who is known for being a dogmatic critic of the auto industry, is in connection with President Bush's stated goal of an average four percent raise each year starting in September 2009 for passenger cars and September 2011 for light trucks.

However, the difference of Markey's proposal is that it makes the requirement a law. In contrast, Bush's proposal allows automakers to negotiate for a lesser standard during the rulemaking process.

Automakers have earlier endorsed rewriting the federal fuel regulation rather than letting Congress legislate a specific requirement. Automakers call it "picking a number out of the air."

Markey's proposal is less strict than previous bills he has penned. The recent one would increase the average fuel economy standard for an automaker's fleet of vehicles to at least 35 miles per gallon by 2018. With the said fuel standard proposal, improvement of about 10 mpg from current levels is expected to be realized. The bill will also raise fuel economy four percent annually after 2018, "unless it is not technologically or economically feasible," as Markey noted.

According to a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) analysis, the four percent annual increase would cost the auto industry $114 billion from 2010 to 2017, including $85 billion for Detroit's Big Three.

Top executives of the largest automakers that include General Motors Corporation, the Ford Motor Company, DaimlerChrysler's Chrysler Group, and the Toyota Motor North America are expected at the Capitol Hill Wednesday to testify about fuel economy before a House committee.

In complying with the potential four percent increase in fuel standard, the automakers are expected to entertain lots of upgrades and modifications. And these changes entail intensive research and experimentation, as well as huge pecuniary considerations. The said proposal will also require introduction of refined auto parts to blend with the engines, suspension, rotors, filters, , car accessories and other auto systems.