White House: Smart Cars and Leafs for Thee

Over the weekend, news broke that the White House intends to push for fuel efficiency standards that would require cars and light trucks sold in the U.S. to average 56.2 miles per gallon of gasoline by 2025.

The latest effort at establishing highly green regulation would add about $2,400 to the cost of each new vehicle sold in the U.S., a cost that could have an effect on the overall auto market, and therefore employment numbers.

Environmentalists seem to be greeting the news positively. However, consumers might have a different view. Setting aside that few new car buyers are likely to want to have to pay an extra $2,400 for their car or light truck, they may find their vehicle choice rather limited by virtue of the White House’s preferred number.

According to the federal government’s own fueleconomy.gov website, a grand total of three cars currently on the market in the U.S. get 56.2 miles to the gallon or better. They are the Nissan Leaf, and two varieties of Smart car. The famed green Toyota Prius is a dirty polluter by this standard. So would be 2009 and 2010‘s green cars of the year.

Is the White House really serious about this number, or is this a negotiating stance assumed at the outset, aimed at enabling the White House to push automakers to accept the highest efficiency standard that they are apparently willing to concede (46.7 mpg)?

Time will tell, though it’s unlikely that Clark Stevens, the White House spokesperson tasked with defending this, is rolling around Washington, D.C. in a two-seater electric drive Smart car cabriolet– or that many people working in the administration would care to do so.

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