The nation's Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards will swell to 27.3 miles-per-gallon by 2011. That's the word coming out of Washington, where the U.S. Department of Transportation is expected to bump the fleet fuel economy standards for the first time in more than a quarter-century.

The 27.3 mpg figure represents an 8% increase over the current 2010 requirement of 25.3. In specific, cars will need to average 30.2 mpg and light trucks will need to hit 24.1 mpg.

The truck figure is expected to be a tough one for automakers to meet within that timetable (most of the vehicles for 2011 are already well along in development – if not on dealer lots already). However, automakers are actually operating ahead of the 2010 requirements, achieving 2007 model year averages of 31.3 mpg for cars and 23.1 mpg for trucks, so there is some hope that the figures are workable.

Further, General Motors and Chrysler may have some additional federal funds to help them get there – the Obama administration is hinting that it will release more federal aid to the troubled automakers. The two companies have already received $17.4 billion in loans and are seeking a further $21.6 billion to stave off bankruptcy.

This is a separate issue from the decision that President Obama's administration is mulling over whether it should allow California (and the 13 other states that follow its policies) to mandate a 30 percent drop in tailpipe emissions by 2016, essentially a backdoor mandate of 34.5 mpg by 2015.

Federal estimates say the new CAFE figures will save 887 million gallons of fuel and 8.3 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions.

[Source: Detroit News | Image: David McNew/Getty]

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