Automakers say feds seem open to changes
Automakers say the Obama administration appears not to be wedded to the 56.2-mpg target for 2025 it floated last week and may be open to other refinements.
The manufacturers are pushing for a single national program while expressing concern in private talks with the White House that the standard may be too tough.
They are arguing that no decisions should be made until new forecasts of manufacturers' technology, costs and sales become available.
Environmental advocates who had been calling for a 62-mpg standard expressed support last week for a target of 56.2 mpg, or annual increases of 5 percent after the 2016 model year.
An administration study last fall found that the technology required to meet 5 percent yearly mpg increases would increase the cost of the average 2025-model vehicle by up to $2,600 and produce fuel savings of up to $7,000 over the life of the vehicle.
The Detroit 3 also are proposing that annual mpg increases be low in the early part of the nine-year period until advanced technology can be developed, and that periodic reviews be held.
This snapshot of the ongoing multiparty negotiations comes from industry officials who asked not to be identified. A rule for the 2017-25 model years is scheduled to be proposed in September and made final next July.
Automakers that met with California Gov. Jerry Brown said they got the impression that the state -- which has been an adversary in the past -- would not pose major obstacles to an agreement.
Some manufacturers' public comments also convey cautious optimism that their goal of a single nationwide program can be met.
"Ford believes that the meetings have been productive," a spokeswoman said. "We support increasing fuel economy requirements with one national program that is data-driven."
Automakers have been meeting with the administration and California regulators to build on the 2016-model standard of 35.5 mpg. They have considered 2025 standards of 47 to 62 mpg.