We saw some big things happen in the last few weeks on the road to cleaner cars. Here’s a taste:

    1. EPA announced average fuel economy hit a record high (23.8 mpg) in 2012
    2. Hybrid sales jumped almost a third compared to the same period last year.
    3. EPA announced new tailpipe standards that will slash smog and toxic air pollution
    4. China  upped its fuel economy standards to 47 mpg by 2020
    5. Higher than expected sales of its Model S gave Tesla Motors its first quarterly profit

Why does all this matter?  It matters to your lungs and your wallet.

Over 150 million of us breathe unhealthy air, and a big chunk of this pollution comes from passenger vehicles.  Cleaner, more fuel efficient cars will emit lower tailpipe emissions and help us breathe easier.

The benefits of cleaner tailpipes come at a steal for less than a penny a gallon and the health and fuel saving benefits outweigh the costs of cleaner and more efficient vehicle technology by more than 2 to 1.   By lowering sulfur in gasoline and lowering tailpipe emissions, the standards will prevent between 820 and 2,400 premature deaths and 3,200 hospital admissions and asthma-related emergency room visits each year.

Lowering the sulfur content in gasoline reduces corrosion of emissions control systems, which is particularly helpful to cleaning up exhaust from older cars.  In addition, low sulfur gasoline enables automakers a greater array of technology to meet emissions and fuel economy standards cost-effectively.  The oil industry is lobbying against cleaner gasoline standards, but really, they should be happy to make their product safer for their customers and the public.

In addition to health costs, gasoline takes a big chunk out of our wallets.  On average, Americans spend over $2,500 each year on gas.  Because we enjoy buying gasoline?  Not exactly.  Most people still don’t have much choice to get where they need and want to go.

But in many places, that’s changing, and the amount of oil we need is declining.  People drive much less when they live in communities that have safe and convenient alternatives to driving such as walking, biking and public transit.  Alt-fuels, including electric vehicles and advanced biofuels, also have enormous potential to give Americans some choices when it comes to transportation fuel and help us be more resilient to fluctuating gas prices.

The good news is more efficient and alt-fuel vehicles are coming onto the market faster than ever before, with even faster progress on the horizon..  Thanks to new fuel economy standards, vehicles model year 2017-2025 will see even bigger leaps in fuel economy, delivering net savings of $6,000 per new vehicle by 2025.

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