This is an excerpt from EERE Network News, a weekly electronic newsletter.

December 18, 2002

NHTSA Proposes Increased Fuel Efficiency for Light Trucks

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), part of the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), proposed new fuel economy standards for light trucks on December 13th. The new standards will first take effect during model year 2005 and become gradually more restrictive until model year 2007. Over those three years, light truck fuel efficiency standards will increase from today's 20.7 mile-per-gallon (mpg) requirement to 22.2 mpg, an increase of more than 7 percent, which will save an estimated 2.5 billion gallons of gasoline. The corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) standard was last increased in 1996; a final rule establishing the new standards will be issued by April 2003. See the DOT press release.

"Light trucks" refer to pickups, vans, and sport utility vehicles (SUVs) with a gross vehicle weight rating of 8,500 pounds or less-some heavy pickups and SUVs exceed this vehicle weight rating and are exempt from the standard. In submissions to the NHTSA in May 2002, the three major U.S. automakers said they expected to increase light-truck fuel efficiency by 2007, with General Motors Corporation aiming to achieve 19.1 to 20.8 mpg, Ford Motor Company targeting 22.0 mpg, and DaimlerChrysler shooting for 22.2 mpg. When the new CAFE standards are in place, manufacturers that fail to meet the standards will be subject to civil penalties. See the "Notice of Proposed Rulemaking" on the NHTSA Web site.