Under federal law, NHTSA must establish CAFE standards for light trucks for each model year at least 18 months before it begins. The light truck standard applies to pickup trucks, vans, and utility vehicles with gross vehicle weight rating of up to 8,500 pounds. After rejecting the suggested 21.5 mph for model years 1996 and 1997 NHTSA set CAFE standards of 20.7 mpg. Recommendations were made for much higher CAFE requirements in upcoming years -- as high as 28 mpg by 2006.
CAFE standards ignore the needs of farmers and construction companies who require heavy-duty pickups, commuter pools and disabled motorists who require large utility vehicles for towing. The work functions that distinguish a trunk's performance from that of a passenger car require body and engine characteristics that limit the applicability of certain technologies used to obtain higher mileage in passenger cars (aerodynamics and axle ratios)
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