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Wednesday, January 15, 2003

The top U.S. government regulator of the automotive industry said this week he would support higher fuel economy standards beyond the 1.5-mile-per-gallon increase set to go into effect by 2007.

"We can do better" said Jeffrey Runge, head of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in an interview with Reuters.

The "NHTSA's analysis found that General Motors Corp. would have the toughest task meeting the new rules, while Ford Motor Co. and DaimlerChrysler AG would meet or be just below the (22.2 mpg) standard. Federal fuel economy averages are based on vehicles sold, so if consumers reject high-mileage models and buy low-mileage ones, an automaker's average suffers."

Jeffrey Runge also said the agency was aware of automakers' complaints that safety regulations were adding weight to vehicles and lowering fuel economy, but said improved safety should not be an impediment to better fuel economy."

"A former emergency room doctor, Runge has set a goal for NHTSA of reducing annual U.S. highway deaths from about 42,000 now. At the current rate of increase, about 51,000 people would die annually by 2008."

See here for NHTSA's SUV Safety Comparison Tool
See here for the EPA's Fuel Efficiency Comparison Chart