NHTSA relaxes café rules; Average 50.4 mpg by 2031

The EPA has faced some criticism from climate activists for relaxing its emissions rules, with automakers claiming that the targets it set were physically impossible. Now, NHTSA has also relaxed its fleet MPG targets to comply with relaxed EPA requirements. For the 2031 model year, all trucks and light vehicles must meet the CAFE fleet average of 50.4 mpg.

Despite this high number, this is lower than NHTSA’s original proposal of an average of 55.7 mpg by the 2032 model year. With these windfall years, new cars would need to improve by 2% each year between 2027 and 2031, while light trucks would need to improve by just 2% from 2029 to 2031. Under the old proposal, cars would need to improve by 2% per year. From 2027. Until 2032, while light trucks will need to grow by 4% annually from 2027 to 2032.

CAFE is binding

Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards, commonly referred to as “CAFE” are the average of a manufacturer’s model line and are intended to continually increase over time. These rates were introduced fleet-wide in 1978, and every automaker must meet them, or face stiff fines.

Reactions to the proposal were mixed. Some, such as the Alliance for Automotive Innovation, have praised the administration for incentivizing more fuel-efficient vehicles while creating a policy they claim is more realistic and achievable. Others have criticized the Biden administration for officially relaxing the rules, thus allowing automakers to continue making gas-guzzling trucks and cars.

However, it is still not entirely clear what will happen next. The Biden administration has responded to the criticism, insisting that these new rules will allow automakers to make and sell more efficient electric vehicles rather than focusing on gas-powered vehicles.

It’s kind of a six-in-one-six-in-the-other conundrum when it comes to these new rules. On the one hand, 50.4 mpg is a very high number, no doubt helped by sales of electric cars and other PHEV models. On the other hand, it allows the big trucks and SUVs we love so much here in the US to continue with relatively small economic improvements. It could also slow the adoption of EVs since EV sales would offset the average mpg of any gasoline-powered car. The administration only aims for electric vehicles to achieve between 30 and 56% of total vehicle sales between 2030 and 2032, a significant decline from the 67% by 2032 that was initially achieved.

But, by the same token, NHTSA cannot calculate EVs based on fuel economy averages. Many automakers claimed that reaching the original targets was completely impossible, and they would face fines in the billions.

The new rules claim the United States will save 70 billion gallons of gasoline and more than 710 million metric tons of carbon dioxide through 2050. That’s short of the original policy goals of saving 90 billion gallons of gas and more than 900 million tons of carbon. dioxide.

However, these goals represent a somewhat incomplete victory for the environment and the transition away from fossil fuels. But let’s hope and pray that they don’t erode any further.

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