U.S. Representative Ed Markey, D-Mass., is introducing a bill today that will require automakers to raise their fuel economy standards by 4% a year starting in late 2009 for cars and late 2011 for trucks. The key word here is "require," as President Bush proposed a similar plan that was more of a really strong suggestion with a few loopholes than an actual law with penalties for not being followed.

On the brightside, Markey's plan is reportedly less severe than previous ones he's proposed, though it is estimated that raising fuel economy standards 4% a year will cost the auto industry a grand total of $114 billion between 2010 and 2017. U.S. automakers would likely shoulder about $85 billion of that expense. Markey's plan would even require that fuel economy standards continue to rise 4% a year in 2018 and beyond, that is, if it's technologically feasible. Talk about a big if.

The ultimate goal of Markey's plan would get fuel economy standards for automaker fleets to 35 mpg by 2018. In truth, that's a decade of time to add an additional 10 mpg to the current standard. It doesn't sound impossible, especially if vehicles like the GM Volt reach production and prove that hyper mileage cars can be sold alongside relative gas guzzlers to even out the MPG balance sheets. Unfortunately, that doesn't really account for gas guzzlers outselling high-mileage vehicles many times over.

[Source: The Detroit News]