The Biden administration has ordered automakers to increase their average fuel economy to around 49 miles per gallon by 2026, in an ambitious effort to make up for progress stalled when President Donald Trump canceled the efficiency program.
New fuel economy rules, released Friday by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, require automakers to increase the fuel efficiency of their fleets by 8% per year for the 2024 and 2025 model years, and 10% for 2026, according to a senior administration. official. The agency faced a March 31 deadline to finalize the new rules for the 2024 model year.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has separately issued greenhouse gas emissions regulations that require automakers to achieve vehicle mileage of 52 miles per gallon by 2026 on all models that they make, up from 40 mpg this year.
The EPA number equates to about 41 mpg under so-called real-world driving conditions which typically represents about a 20 percent drop in fuel economy from EPA ratings.
The 49 mpg standard that the auto industry will have to meet by 2026 is actually a test figure. In actual driving, the number would be around 39 mpg.
The EPA said its proposal would result in a 10% reduction in vehicle emissions in the 2023 model year, then an improvement in emissions reductions of 5% each year through 2026. The agencies measure pollution differently, with the EPA focusing on tailpipe emissions and the NHTSA rules focusing on miles per gallon.
Steven Croley, Ford’s chief policy officer and general counsel, said in a statement late Thursday that “Ford applauds NHTSA’s efforts to strengthen fuel economy standards and create consistent benchmarks to accelerate our national transition to a future zero-emission transport”.
The EPA reported in November 2021 that automakers achieved an average of 25.4 miles per gallon for vehicles made in the 2020 model year. That was 0.5 mpg more than the model year 2019 and a record high, but a far cry from the 39 miles per gallon, in real terms, by 2026 that President Joe Biden’s administration is now proposing.
Under the administration’s proposal, automakers will retain the ability to purchase credits from electric vehicle makers, such as Tesla Inc., to ensure fleet-wide mileage requirements are met. Automakers say the credit system is helping the industry transition to fully electric vehicles.
A group of 15 states led by conservative Republican governors have sued the EPA’s rules, saying the agency overstepped its authority and violated the separation of powers principles of the US Constitution by making rules strict on greenhouse gas emissions. The case was filed in December by Texas, Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Utah.
The two agencies’ regulations are part of a Biden plan that calls for half of all vehicles sold in the United States to be capable of emission-free driving by the end of the decade, an ambitious goal that automakers say , can only be achieved with a larger government. investment in charging stations and other infrastructure.