Carmakers have four years to raise the fuel efficiency of new cars sold in the U.S., now that the Biden Administration and NHTSA announced stricter fuel economy standards. The rules apply to cars of model year 2024-2026. And by the end of that term, cars must average at least 40 miles per gallon, per NBC.
These fuel economy standards actually mandate an average of 49 MPG for new cars and light trucks by 2026, but that higher number is an “industry-wide fleet average.” This likely means cars will have lower a MPG count than the industry average, but it’s a jump ahead either way. Especially considering these apply to all new cars and light trucks sold in the U.S. by 2026. What will gas cost then?
Of course, we’ve been here before: the Obama Administration passed stricter standards nearly a decade ago. Remember that in 2012 — while most of us were humming ‘Somebody That I Used to Know’ — fuel economy standards were set to reach 54.5 MPG by 2025. But the Trump Administration rolled back the Obama standards and promised to freeze levels after 2020.
These latest standards, then, are a rollback of the Trump rollback and introduce higher yearly increases to fuel efficiency. From NBC:
The new requirements increase gas mileage by 8 percent per year for model years 2024 and 2025 and 10 percent in the 2026 model year.
For the current model year, standards enacted under Trump require the fleet of new vehicles to get just over 24 miles per gallon in real-world driving.
While the Biden Administration claims these 2024-2026 standards mandate the highest increase yet, environmental groups reportedly say these new standards fall short of Obama’s by a couple of MPGs:
Some environmental groups said the new requirements from NHTSA under President Joe Biden don’t go far enough to fight global warming.
“Climate change has gotten much worse, but these rules only require automakers to reduce gas-guzzling slightly more than they agreed to cut nine years ago,” said Dan Becker, director of the Safe Climate Transport Center at the Center for Biological Diversity.
He said the final rule is about 2 mpg short of the strongest alternative that NHTSA considered.
For its part, NHTSA claims the new standards will match Obama’s by 2025 and exceed them by 2026. The numbers and formulas NHTSA cites are in the “Final Rule” of the standards, with graphs and figures to show how the 49 MPG by model year 2026 susses out. By all means, take a look; it’s a light read.
These standards are part of the overhaul the Biden Administration promised regarding the U.S. auto industry. Mayor Pete claims the new standards will reduce carbon emissions by 2.5 billion metric tons. But car dealers — not carmakers — warn this will raise new car prices because R&D ain’t cheap. And if the government is going to mandate more efficient cars, then that’s on buyers.