Washington – Automakers will be required to significantly increase the fuel efficiency of 2024 to 2026 model year vehicles under finalized fuel economy standards released Friday by federal auto regulators.
Passenger cars and light trucks would be required to increase gas mileage by 8% annually for 2024 and 2025 and 10% in the 2026 model year to average 40 miles per gallon. Under current rules, vehicle fleets must average just over 28 miles per gallon this year.
This is slightly stricter than the proposed rule published by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in August, when he suggested increasing fuel economy by 8% per year instead of the current rate of 1.5% per year. The rule would increase the fleet average by 12 miles per gallon by the 2026 model year compared to the 2021 model year, the agency said.
Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said Friday the final rules would reduce fuel consumption by 234 billion gallons through 2050, saving the typical American household hundreds of dollars and giving “people the freedom to go where they need to go more affordably”.
As Russia’s war in Ukraine drags on, driving up gas prices, Buttigieg framed the policy as one that would help insulate the country from future price shocks by advancing the transition to an energy economy. own.
“Even though all of the oil we use in the United States was made in the United States, its price is still subject to powers and dynamics outside of the United States,” he said.
“Which means that until we achieve some form of energy independence based on clean energy created right here at home, American citizens will still be vulnerable to wild price hikes like what we’re seeing right now.”
NHTSA estimated the proposed change would save consumers $140 billion on fuel from new vehicles sold by 2030 and $470 billion by 2050. It also estimated it would reduce overall emissions passenger cars and light trucks by 7% until the end of the century.
Transportation remains the leading cause of greenhouse gas emissions in the country, with passenger cars and light trucks accounting for nearly 60% of transportation emissions, according to the EPA.
The industry, which plans vehicle technology years in advance, has been hit with multiple changes to the standard over the past decade.
Former President Barack Obama set fuel economy standards at a required 5% increase starting in 2011 and decided to keep the standard in 2017 shortly before leaving office, surprising leaders of industry who expected a more in-depth mid-term review. In 2020, former President Donald Trump reversed this rule to implement the lower 1.5% raise requirement.
The Alliance for Automotive Innovation, which represents most major automakers producing or selling vehicles in the United States, argued that the agency should set standards lower than an 8% increase requirement but higher than 1 .5% put in place under Trump.
He said the agency unfairly factored future electric vehicle sales into its calculations of what the industry could realistically achieve, arguing it was violating laws dictating regulations. He also urged the agency to retain provisions that help automakers earn more credit for certain technological improvements.
Asked about the rules’ feasibility for automakers, Alliance CEO John Bozzella said the group would determine that when it has the chance to review the final rule.
“Of course, compliance is a matter of individual companies, product choices and product strategies,” he said. “So really, we’ll have to see.”
Environmental groups, including the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Sierra Club, the Union of Concerned Scientists and others, have urged NHTSA to eliminate provisions advocated by automakers, which they have called “gifts” to automobile industry. “In addition, your proposed rules offer less carbon pollution reductions and fuel savings than Obama-era standards,” the NRDC wrote in a submitted comment on the rule.
Major environmental groups hailed Friday’s final rule as an important step toward reducing emissions, but urged the Biden administration to implement tougher rules going forward.
Sierra Club president Ramón Cruz called the rule a “first step” that “will improve gas mileage and help save energy, while reducing vehicle emissions and protecting public health.”
“We need policies like this regulation, and more, to get the auto industry to make 100% zero-emission cars,” he added.
Dan Becker, director of the Center for Biological Diversity’s Safe Climate Transport campaign, called the standards weak and said they “do little to ease consumers’ pain at the pump” because they are not pushing Automakers are aggressively phasing out trucks and SUVs that use more gasoline. “This rule is another missed opportunity for Biden.”
On Monday, President Joe Biden requested $27.5 million from the Department of Transportation’s budget to implement the next round of fuel economy rules.
The Environmental Protection Agency released a final version of updated emissions requirements in December, which work in tandem with the NTHSA rules.
Associated Press contributed.