New standards call for an average fleet economy rating of 39 mpg for passenger cars and 30 mpg for light trucks. The Obama administration estimates the new regulations will add about 1,300 US dollars to the price of each vehicle.

Well, it's been a while coming, and now the Obama administration has done it; imposing tougher fuel economy standards for vehicles sold in the US.

The new standards call for automakers to have an average fleet economy rating of 35.5 miles per gallon (6.63 liters/100 km) by 2016. For passenger cars the average must be 39 mpg (6 liters/100 km) and 30 mpg (7.84 liters/100 km) for light trucks.

The Obama administration estimates the new standards would increase the average price of a vehicle by about 1,300 US dollars.

But this is good news for the competitiveness of the industry, and for California. Now the entire US market will have a single standard, as the new mileage regulations fit those of California that were traditionally stricter. And US automakers will be forced to make models that are, at least on fuel economy, competitive with their Japanese counterparts, who continue to grow their share in the passenger car market.

The new standards may be arriving too late to save GM and Chrysler, who for too long indulged in building large, inefficient vehicles for (in fairness) a fickle public that demanded them and whose products now are generally uncompetitive. But the standards are necessary to address global warming and will ultimately be a plus for the consumer as well.

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