Yesterday, new federal fuel economy standards took effect that will eventually require new cars to get 35.5 mpg. The new standards, known as CAFE standards (for Corporate Average Fuel Economy) will require about a 30-percent increase in fuel economy from current standards.
But don’t expect mainstream family cars to get that kind of mileage for a few years. The new standards require different fuel economy averages for each manufacturer and for each type of vehicle (such as small, midsized, and large sedans or SUVs). And they rise gradually through 2016. At that point, cars will have to average 38 mpg, and SUVs, minivans, and pickups must average 34.1 mpg. They won’t actually rise to 35.5 mpg overall until 2020.
Here’s how the increase is scheduled to roll out through 2016 (as far as the final law designates), according to number from the Government Accountability Office:
The law is designed to force manufacturers to add fuel-saving technology to cars. But loopholes, such as for the use of E85 ethanol, mean consumers’ actual fuel economy may be lower. While the added cost to consumers for the more fuel-efficient cars is estimated to be $1,100 in 2016, typical net fuel savings over the life of the car are said to equal $3,000. Without question, there will be more, fuel-efficient choices coming for consumers in the years ahead.