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

April 09, 2003

Fuel Economy For Light Trucks to Increase More Than 7 Percent by 2007

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced on April 1st that it will increase the corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) standards for light trucks by 1.5 miles per gallon (mpg) over the next three years, as it had proposed in December 2002. The current standard of 20.7 mpg for pickup trucks, vans, and sport utility vehicles (SUVs) will increase to 21.0 mpg for Model Year (MY) 2005, 21.6 mpg for MY 2006, and 22.2 mpg for MY 2007. According to the NHTSA, this is the first increase in CAFE standards since MY 1996 and is the largest increase in fuel economy standards in the last 20 years. The new rule is expected to save more than 3.6 billion gallons of gas over the lifetime of the new vehicles. See the NHTSA press release.

Many of the technical options that could be used by automakers to improve the fuel efficiency of light trucks are now being explored by teams of engineering students at 15 universities across the United States. The 2003 FutureTruck competition, to be held in early June, will pit 15 university teams against each other in an effort to boost the fuel efficiency of a Ford Explorer SUV by 25 percent while cutting emissions and maintaining performance, utility, safety, and affordability. With less than two months remaining, the teams are confident that they will exceed the fuel-efficiency goal. Last year, the University of Wisconsin at Madison used advanced materials to increase their vehicle's fuel economy by 45 percent. DOE and the Ford Motor Company sponsor the competition. See the FutureTruck press release.