New fuel standards for the majority of vehicles that tow recreational vehicles likely won’t be set until sometime in 2009 under legislation passed by Congress and signed Wednesday (Dec. 19) by President Bush.
“It looks like it will be awhile,” said Jay Landers, senior director for government affairs for the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA).
Although the 35-mpg fleet standard in the new law will capture sport utility recreational vehicles (SURVs), a separate standard will be set for pickups weighing between 8,500 and 10,000 pounds and for medium- and heavy-duty trucks.
And that bodes well for the RV industry, because RVIA and representatives of other industries that rely on tow vehicles will have input during the regulatory process that will establish the standards that includes a National Academy of Science study.
“Towing capacity will not be diminished under the new law, and that’s a solid victory for the RV industry,” said RVIA President Richard Coon.
Landers said RVIA doesn’t think that Class A and C motorhomes will likely be affected substantially by the new law, although, “it’s still very unclear,” he said.
Under the law, passenger vehicles must meet a fleet average of 35 mpg by 2020, an increase of 40% from today.
The task of setting out how automakers will meet the standard for trucks has been given to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), which has a year to conduct studies and then must go through a lengthy regulatory process that will include comments and proposed revisions from RVIA and other companies and organizations.
President Bush signed the law following approval of a broad energy bill by the U.S. Senate on Tuesday. The new law bill targets a six-fold increase in the use of ethanol and better efficiency in consumer products, provisions that represent, Bush said, “a major step” toward energy independence and easing global warming.