We just spoke to GM's Greg Martin, Director, Policy and Washington Communications, about the fuel economy regulations that are being proposed by NHTSA today. Martin reiterated that although the new CAFE rules are tough, it is the company's position that they will meet them just as they said they would back in December when the Energy bill was passed by Congress. At an Earth Day event today in Washington, Transportation Secretary Mary Peters will announce the actual regulations that carmakers will have to meet in response to the mandate from Congress. The Energy bill called for an overall fleet average of 35mpg by 2020. The NHTSA rules will require a fleet average of 35.7mpg for cars and 26.7mpg for trucks, both by 2015.
If this pace continues through 2020, it would exceed the effective 42mpg that would be required by the proposed California CO2 limits. Since the federal rules would exceed California's requirement, that raises the obvious question of whether that means the automakers would stop fighting the California rules. According to Martin, the issue with the state rules is not so much the mileage requirement. The real problem is the "17 or 18 distinct compliance plans that an automaker would have to manage" due to the patchwork of rules. Not all the states are taking the California rules in whole, some are cherry-picking and paperwork has to filed in each state verifying that the manufacturer is in compliance. This can be particularly problematic if the rules are based on sales within a given state and sales of different types of vehicles vary from state to state. A single national rule simplifies things and allows manufacturers to aggregate sales averages over the whole country.

[Source: General Motors]

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