In 2011, the Obama Administration released new fuel economy standards for automakers, which require that an automaker’s fleet of cars and light trucks average 54.5 mpg by 2025. The federal mandate has been met with a mix of positive and negative reactions from consumer groups and car dealers who disagree over its consumer benefits.

Consumer groups, like Consumers Union and Consumer Federation of America, approve of the 54.5 mpg average because they say that consumer savings will be considerable. The Consumer Federation of America says that even though fuel-efficient cars will cost more, the yearly fuel savings will negate the higher costs. “At the end of the auto loan, the consumer will have saved an estimated average of nearly $800 by purchasing a new car that meets the standard,” says the Consumer Federation of America. In 10 years, a consumer could save about $3,000, “and the original owner is likely to capture most of that value (through a combination of pocketbook savings and higher resale value).”

But the National Automobile Dealers Association opposes the fuel economy standards. Don Chalmers, the government relations committee chairman for NADA, says that buyers can’t save money at the pump if they can't afford the vehicles in the first place. “To work, fuel economy rules must require improvements that are affordable,” Chalmers says in a NADA press release. “According to EPA and NHTSA, the cumulative cost of all of their fuel economy rules will raise the average price of a vehicle by $3,200. This is not pro-consumer.”

Still, the 54.5 mpg fleet average must be met by 2025, and while the final deadline for automakers is 13 years away, automakers must start making changes to their fleets now in order to meet the requirement. That means consumers could see new vehicle costs increase sooner than 2025.  

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