“Carbon pollution was going unchecked, which was having severe impacts on our weather,” Obama said in a speech at a Safeway distribution center in Upper Marlboro, MD.
For decades, fuel efficiency standards had been “stuck in neutral, even as other kinds of technology leapt forward,” the president said. The economy was “vulnerable to fluctuations in oil prices.”
“Every time oil prices shot up, the economy got hurt. Our automakers were in danger of being left in the dust by foreign automakers,” he said.
After taking office, the Obama administration “set in motion the first ever national policy aimed at both increasing gas mileage and decreasing gas pollution for all new cars and trucks sold” in the U.S.
“Our levels of dangerous carbon pollution that contributes to climate change has actually gone down even as our production has gone up,” he said.
The administration had set the goal of raising fuel economy standards to 35.5 miles per gallon for a new vehicle by 2016 – an increase of more than eight miles per gallon over the average at the time.
Some automakers have already exceeded that goal, he said.
“Some are already making cars that beat the target of nearly 55 miles per gallon. They’ve got plug-in hybrids. They’ve got electric vehicles. They’re taking advantage of the investments that the Recovery Act made in American advances in battery technology, so cars are getting better, and they’re getting more fuel efficient all the time,” Obama said.
The new goal: doubling the distance cars and light trucks can travel before needing to refuel.
“We’re gonna double the distance our cars and light trucks can go on a gallon of gas by 2025. We’re gonna double it, and that means – that’s big news – because what it means is you got to fill up every two weeks instead of every week, and that saves the typical family more than $8,000 at the pump over time,” Obama said.
“I’m assuming you can use $8,000 that you’re not paying at the gas station, and in the process, it cuts American oil consumption by 12 billion barrels,” he added.
“And for anybody who said this couldn’t be done or that it would hurt the American auto industry, the American auto industry sold more cars last year than any time since 2007. And since we stepped in to help our automakers retool, the American auto industry has created almost 425,000 new jobs,” he added.