* Plan would start with 2017 model year through 2025
* Proposal would recommend average targets
* Impact of electric vehicles unknown
By John Crawley and Tom Doggett
WASHINGTON, Sept 27 The Obama administration
this week will propose new fuel efficiency and emissions
requirements for cars and light trucks for model years 2017 and
The plan, a centerpiece of President Barack Obama's energy
agenda geared toward reducing oil imports, is under review by
the White House budget office. It is due on Thursday, but could
be released sooner,
Leading environmental groups have called on the
administration to set a target of 60 miles per gallon by 2025
but officials have said that is unlikely.
Environmental and auto industry experts close to the
process believe transportation and environmental regulators
will propose a yearly average increase ranging from 3 percent
to 6 percent. The 60 mpg figure would require a roughly 6
percent annual improvement.
The administration is expected to take pains not to be
prescriptive, but will spell out its aims for more aggressive
gains than industry is accustomed to achieving.
U.S. passenger vehicles emit about 20 percent of the
nation's carbon emissions and consume about 44 percent of its
oil, figures show.
Environmental groups and scientists want the United States
to cut oil dependence nearly 50 billion gallons annually and
carbon pollution more than 500 metric tons per year by 2030.
Standards imposed last year require automakers to achieve
35.5 mpg by 2016, up 42 percent from current levels.
The Consumer Federation of America, along with leading
environmental and scientific groups, wrote President Obama last
week urging his administration to raise vehicle fuel efficiency
requirements to 60 mpg by 2025.
If the 60 mpg standard were in place now, U.S. gasoline
consumption would fall by roughly half to 4.5 million barrels a
day this year, or 1.6 billion barrels annually, according to
CFA Director of Research Mark Cooper. One barrel holds 42
Cooper also said other countries would benefit from a
higher U.S. vehicle fuel standard, as America's gasoline
consumption accounts for 10 percent of global petroleum
"Gasoline policy is a huge important part not only of U.S.
energy policy, but of global energy policy," Cooper said.
The rulmaking will undergo an intense period of public
comment and is not expected to be finalized for some time.
Rules must be in place at least 18 months before the start of a
Automotive experts and scientists say the efficiency
targets under consideration can be achieved with lighter
vehicle construction, cleaner burning gasoline engines and
better performing transmission systems.
Many cars, particularly those made by Japanese companies,
already meet or exceed the U.S. 2016 standard.
A big unknown is whether the public will embrace electric
vehicles, which will receive a "0" emissions rating from the
government during their introduction to the market. The most
fuel efficient vehicles on the road today, gasoline/electric
hybrids, represent only a fraction of retail sales.
General Motors Co GM.UL, which is government-owned, has
placed large bets on electric cars. Its Chevy Volt is due out
later this year.
(Editing by David Gregorio)