How have automakers improved fuel efficiency?

New Standards for Fuel, New Outlook for Automakers

In July 2011, U.S. President Obama proposed new fuel-economy standards that asked the auto industry to make 5 percent-a-year gains in efficiency (or 3.5 percent for trucks). By 2025, the Obama administration would like to see the average vehicle rated at 54.5 mpg, or 37 mpg on a window sticker. Considering that the industry has made just over 2 percent gains a year since 2007, this is no small feat.

Historically, carmakers weren't thrilled with the idea of higher fuel efficiency standards. In 2007, proposed fuel standards caused panic among automakers. The cost of new technology seemed prohibitive to progress. What changed? Well, in America, a little thing called the "auto bailout" made them soften toward the federal government. And because the industry moves fast, within those four years, smaller cars and fuel efficiency had become more mainstream.