Canada to match U.S. fuel economy rules for cars

Thu Jan 17, 2008 1:53pm EST
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By Robert Melnbardis

MONTREAL (Reuters) - The government said on Thursday it will set fuel-consumption standards for cars and light trucks that at least match U.S. rules, but environmental groups criticized the plan for falling short of California's tougher targets.

"We want to make sure...that it is a Canada-made standard and that it will be the most stringent, dominant standard in North America," Transport Minister Lawrence Cannon told reporters at the Montreal Auto Show.

Until now, Canada has had a voluntary policy for improvements in fuel consumption from cars and light trucks.

Cannon said he began a 60-day consultation with auto makers, environmental groups and others on the matter and expects the new standards to be ready by the end of this year.

The minister said Canada would match and perhaps top U.S. standards, which require auto makers to improve fuel economy by some 40 percent by 2020 with vehicles that have fuel consumption of 35 miles per gallon (6.7 liters per 100 kilometers).

That is comparable to the fuel consumption of small, low-emissions cars such as the Toyota (7203.T: Quote) Yaris or BMW's (BMWG.DE: Quote) Mini Cooper today.

The Sierra Club of Canada said Ottawa should try to match California's initiative to reach a fuel consumption standard of 35 miles per gallon by 2016.

The 2020 target would cost Canadians billions of dollar more in gasoline consumption and cause irreparable damage to the global climate through emissions of greenhouse gases, the environmental group said.   Continued...