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US President Obama (l) and Transportation Secretary LaHood see economic benefits from the new rules (Photo: DOT)

The US government finalized new automotive fuel consumption standards that will force the auto industry to make cars and light trucks substantially more fuel-efficient over the next 13 years.

By 2025, new cars and light commercial vehicles need to achieve average fuel consumption of 54.5 miles per gallon. Under current rules, average fuel consumption is set to hit 35.5 mpg by 2016.

The administration estimates the reduced fuel consumption and resulting lower CO2 emissions will save consumers more than 1.7 trillion dlrs and reduce US oil consumption by more than 2 million barrels a day by 2025. The US imports roughly twice that amount from OPEC member countries now.

US President Barack Obama said the program will reduce dependence on foreign oil and boost the country's economy. "It’ll strengthen our nation's energy security, it's good for middle class families and it will help create an economy built to last,” he said in a press release.

Last year, 13 major automakers, which together account for more than 90 pc of all vehicles sold in the US, announced their support for the new standards.

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said the new regulation will make cars more efficient but also provides a planning framework for the car industry. Automakers now have "the regulatory certainty to build the cars of the future here in America," he said.

The government program, which was first announced a year ago, includes targeted incentives to boost advanced technologies aimed at improving vehicle performance. Among these are incentives to boost electric vehicles, hybrids and gas-powered cars.