The U.S. government has imposed the first increase in mileage standards for passenger cars and boosted the floor for sport utilities and pickups beginning with 2011 model-year vehicles.
The standard, expected to cost the auto industry $1.4 billion in vehicle design and other changes, would require compacts, sedans, and other passenger cars to average 30.2 miles per gallon in combined city/highway driving, up from the 27.5 mpg standard established in the late 1970s under the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) program.
Light trucks, which include pickups and SUVs, must average 24.1 mpg in 2011, compared with 23.5 mpg the previous year. Overall fleet performance will be 27.3 mpg, a 2 mpg increase over the 2010-MY average, according to a Department of Transportation statement.
The new standards will save about 887 million gallons of fuel and reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 8.3 million metric tons over the lifetime of model-year 2011 vehicles, the Transportation Department said.
The administration calculates more than $2 billion in overall benefits to consumers from the program, including less money spent on fuel.
Congress has required that the U.S. fleet of cars and light trucks average 35 mpg by 2020, a 40-percent increase over today's performance.
Current federal efficiency targets are based on vehicle size and calculated by the DOT's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).