It looks like automakers will have to meet the dreaded 35-mpg fuel economy standard despite the gazillion dollars they claim it will take to get their cars sipping gasoline like it's Dom Pérignon. Senate and House members are working out the final details of a bill that will likely have a significant impact on what we drive over the next decade and then some. Automakers had been lobbying against the initial bill, expressing specific concern over wording that would require cars and light trucks to meet the same 35-mpg benchmark. The latest edition allows vehicle to meet standards lower than 35 mpg based on their weight and size as long as an automaker's entire fleet meets the 35-mpg standard. Click through the jump to find out what other changes are expected — and what the chances are that Toys 'R Us (how the hell do you type a backwards 'R' on a computer?) will bring back that $50 Dodge Viper bike.
In addition to establishing standards by size and weight, a plan to give fuel economy credits for producing ethanol-capable flex fuel vehicles has made the bill more platable to automakers. It is anticipated that the bill will require ethanol consumption to increase by billions of gallons along with other alternative fuels while accelerating the implementation of new fuel-saving technolgies. By the middle of the next decade, more than half the cars in production are expected to make use of advanced technologies. So does the new bill mean the end of rear-wheel drive and big V8s before the Muscle Car Wars even got started? The full impact won't become clear until the deal is completed, all of the details are revealed and the experts have weighed in. For now, just remember: if you can't afford a $35,000+ V8, do your duty and buy a disastrously slow subcompact so the rest of us can buy that sweet gas-guzzling brute. [The Detroit News]