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White House to Confirm 54.5 mpg Fleet Average Friday

2011 Toyota Prius. The automotive industry predicts that with the government's 54.5 fleet average, hybrids will be less expensive.

In an effort to improve average fuel economy for automaker fleets, the U.S. government proposed a 56.2 mpg fleet average, but has lowered that number to 54.5 mpg. President Obama will make an official announcement on Friday, but it is expected that the 54.5 mpg average must be met by 2025, nearly doubling the current passenger vehicle average of about 27.8 mpg in the next 13 years.

“The new standards represent a compromise for environmentalists, who had pushed for standards to be raised to 62 mpg by 2025,” says The Christian Science Monitor. “Automakers initially responded that 45 mpg was the highest they could go, saying the tougher standards would hammer profits and require building mainly electric and hybrid vehicles.”

However, General Motors, Ford and Chrysler eventually came to an agreement with the U.S. government, stating they can reach the 54.5 mpg fleet average by 2025, and are working with the White House to develop a framework, reports Bloomberg.

After speaking with congressional officials, Autoweek adds that in order to meet this standard, automakers need “a 5 percent annual mileage increase for cars from 2017-2025.”

This shift puts a lot of pressure on automakers, but some vehicles, like trucks and SUVs, are exempt, although the most fuel-efficient models would compensate for their lower ratings. “This week’s proposal to automakers would allow pickups and sport-utility vehicles to improve fuel economy more slowly than cars for the first five years and would give manufacturers credits for hybrid trucks, said two people who declined to be identified,” Bloomberg reports. “Under previous fuel-economy rules, light trucks have had lower mpg targets than cars.”

The Los Angeles Times says this national standard will change vehicle structures and mechanics significantly. “From pickup trucks and sport utility vehicles to hybrids and subcompact cars, almost every vehicle sold in the U.S. is likely to feature the kinds of advanced technology now confined to the most fuel-efficient,” the Los Angeles Times writes. This green-tech shift means that “hybrid technology will become more widespread and cheaper. And automakers will turn to advanced materials, including carbon fiber and high-strength steel, to make cars lighter. Ford, for instance, plans to take 250 to 750 pounds out of its vehicles between 2013 and 2017.”

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