On the first Earth Day in 1970, cars on U.S. roads averaged just 13 miles per gallon. Thankfully, we leave that number further in the dust each time Congress enacts new fuel-efficiency standards. The 2012 Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) regulations dictate that cars and light trucks must operate at an average of 54.5 mpg by 2025.
The mandate applies to all models sold by an automaker, although an automaker can offset its less-efficient machines with higher-mpg electric vehicles and hybrids. Thirteen major automakers negotiated with the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to produce these new standards. Vehicle prices will likely rise, but consumers should save trillions at the pump. Even better: Greenhouse gas emissions and foreign oil imports will decline as the industry meets CAFE goals.