The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) said yesterday it is increasing the corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) standards for light trucks by 1.5 mpg over the next three years.
The agency's final rule states that the current standard of 20.7 mpg that applies to pickup trucks, vans and SUVs will increase to 21.0 mpg for model year 2005, 21.6 mpg for 2006, and 22.2 mpg for 2007.
NHTSA administrator Jeffrey W. Runge said the increase is the first since model year 1996 and is the largest increase in fuel economy standards in the last 20 years.
For model years beyond those covered in the final rule, NHTSA said it plans to consider new ways to administer the CAFE program, including modifications in the classification of vehicles and methods of measuring fuel economy.
NHTSA announced the proposed CAFE increase December. It said it based the increase on the potential available technology without requiring automakers to sacrifice performance or reduce vehicle weight.
General Motors Corp. said in February that a 1.5 mpg rise in CAFE standards would cost it $1.1 billion and lead to lighter and less safe trucks. "The Bush administration is committed to improving vehicle fuel economy while protecting passenger safety and American jobs," Runge said yesterday.