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Now how much would you pay for that truck?

Sorry, fellas. You’re coming to the wrong place for sympathy on this.

When it comes to iconic symbols of Texas, big trucks and SUVs rank right up there with cowboy hats and boots.

But a new White House plan to strengthen auto fuel economy rules is likely to usher in an era of smaller, lighter and less powerful vehicles — yes, even in the Lone Star state.

Under President Barack Obama’s plan, automakers would be required to boost the overall fuel economy of U.S. cars and trucks they sell by 40  percent in seven years, a move meant to help America reduce its oil usage and greenhouse gas emissions.

Hitting the target could mean a significant overhaul of the U.S. auto fleet, bringing not only more fuel-saving diesels and hybrids, but also a broader downsizing of American vehicles and the engines that power them.

Such changes may not be greeted fondly in Texas, where 1 in 4 vehicles sold is a pickup and large SUVs like the Chevrolet Suburban still attract more buyers than most other parts of the country.

“Down here, it’s hard to get a guy who’s been driving a truck for many years to get into any kind of car,” said Jerry Reynolds, a former Ford dealer who has a car advice radio show that airs in Dallas and Houston.

But tougher fuel economy rules do not mean trucks and SUVs are headed for extinction any time soon. Rather, consumers may have to pay more to get them, to cover added costs of fuel-efficient engine technologies, said Philip Gott, a director with economic forecaster IHS Global Insight.

Yeah, well, if Detroit had put half as much R&D resources into improving fuel efficiency as it had towards increasing engine power, we wouldn’t need to be having this conversation right now. They bet the farm on a model that was lucrative in the short term, but ultimately unsustainable. And so here we are now, doing what we should have done 20 years ago. Better late than never, I guess. Oh, and speaking of farms, I’m still completely unmoved by the whole cowboy iconography thing, and I still think that one of these days the use of such to sell rural vehicles in an urban place like this will be seen as unproductive. I just hope I live long enough to see it happen.

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  1. Michael Hurta says:

    Perhaps this will lead to the hybrid Fords F150, F250, and maybe even a hybrid F350.