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NHTSA proposes 58 mpg fuel economy standards by 2032

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The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has issued its proposal to update fuel economy standards aimed at potential average fleet fuel economy of 58 mpg for passenger cars and light trucks.

The proposal includes a 2% per year improvement in fuel efficiency for passenger cars, and a 4% per year improvement for light trucks, beginning in model year 2027 and ramping up through model year 2032.

It also includes a 10% improvement per year for commercial pickup trucks and work vans with gross vehicle weight ratings of more than 8,500 pounds and less than 14,001 pounds beginning in model year 2030 and ramping up through model year 2035.

A 60-day public comment period will begin after the proposal is published in the Federal Register. NHTSA requests comment on the full range of standards from the no-action alternative to the most stringent alternative modeled (as detailed above), including comment on combinations of standards that may not be explicitly identified in the proposal.

“If finalized as proposed, the updated standards would save Americans hundreds of dollars at the pump, all while making America more energy secure and less reliant on foreign oil,” NHTSA said Monday.

Estimated combined benefits of the update adds up to more than $18 billion, according to NHTSA.

NHTSA’s proposed fuel economy standards complement and align with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)’s recently proposed emissions standards for similar vehicle fleets. NHTSA says it will coordinate with EPA ‘to optimize the effectiveness of its standards while minimizing compliance costs, consistent with applicable statutory factors.”

NHTSA notes that it didn’t take electric and alternative fuels into account in setting the standards but said OEMs can use all available technologies, including advanced internal combustion engines, hybrid technologies and electric vehicles (EVs), to comply.

The new proposal supports the Biden-Harris Administration’s efforts to cut costs for the public and reduce harmful greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution in communities near freeways and other heavily trafficked roads, which are disproportionately low-income communities of color, NHTSA said.

“CAFE [Corporate Average Fuel Economy] standards have driven the auto industry to innovate in improving fuel economy in ways that benefit our nation and all Americans,” said NHTSA Acting Administrator Ann Carlson. “The new standards we’re proposing today would advance our energy security, reduce harmful emissions, and save families and business owners money at the pump. That’s good news for everyone.”

If the proposal is finalized NHTSA says it would:

    • “Save consumers more than $50 billion on fuel over the vehicles’ lifetimes;
    • “Reduce U.S. dependence on oil by saving more than 88 billion gallons of gasoline through 2050; and
    • “Prevent more than 900 million tons of CO2 emissions — the equivalent of taking more than 233 million vehicles off the road — between 2022 through 2050.”

In April 2022, NHTA rolled out new standards for model year 2024-2026 vehicles. Beginning with model year 2024, NHTSA said the standards would boost fuel efficiency by 8% annually for model years 2024-2025 and 10% annually for model year 2026 vehicles, save money at the pump, and reduce emissions.

The changes brought the CAFE standards requirement to 49 mpg for passenger cars and light trucks, which NHTSA said was the strongest cost savings and fuel efficiency standards to date and would increase the estimated fleetwide average by nearly 10 miles per gallon for model year 2026, relative to model year 2021. Originally, NHTSA said the average would be increased by 12 miles per gallon.

For more information on the newly proposed standards, visit NHTSA’s Corporate Average Fuel Economy page.


Featured image credit: urbazon/iStock

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