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56 MPG Cars? Feds Weighing New Mileage Rules

The Obama administration is said to be considering regulations that would require automakers to average 56.2 miles per gallon by 2025 on all the cars and light trucks they sell in the U.S.

In separate meetings with Ford, General Motors and Chrysler, officials have asked the Detroit-based companies to analyze the effects of adopting a 56.2 mpg standard, according to Bloomberg News. That number is a slight reduction from the earlier 62 mpg number that was being discussed as a 2025 standard and endorsed by some environmental groups. The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, which represents both domestic and foreign companies, has said it fears the higher standards would hurt sales and jeopardize auto safety.

The new 56.2 mpg standard would represent a further improvement of about 5% a year over the standard automakers now are working toward: a 35.5 mpg average by 2016. Companies originally complained that the 2016 standard would be hard to meet. But as gas prices have hit $4 a gallon, cars built to help meet the higher-mileage standard -- like the Ford Fiesta and Chevrolet Cruze -- have become sales leaders for Ford and GM.

Standards for 2025 will be issued jointly by Sept. 30 by the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The California Air Resources Board -- which, prior to the current law, often led the way in setting tough mileage standards -- is also advising on the regulations.

A study done by the EPA last year estimated that meeting 2025 standards at the higher 62 mpg level would cost about $2,100 per vehicle.

Photos courtesy of the auto companies
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