The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said its new fuel economy requirements are the most stringent yet and the most the industry can achieve over the period. They will reduce gas mileage by more than 220 billion gallons over the life of the vehicles, compared to Trump standards.
They are expected to cut carbon dioxide emissions – but not as much as some environmentalists would like – and raise prices for new vehicles in an industry already squeezed by inflation and supply chain issues .
For the current model year, standards enacted under Trump require the fleet of new vehicles to get just under 28 miles per gallon in real-world driving. The new requirements increase gasoline consumption by 8% per year for the 2024 and 2025 model years and by 10% for the 2026 model year.
Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, whose department includes NHTSA, said the rules will also help bolster national security by making the country less dependent on foreign oil and less vulnerable to volatile gasoline prices. Nationwide gasoline averaged more than $4.22 a gallon, with much of the increase having come since Russia, a major oil producer, invaded Ukraine in late February. It was $2.88 a gallon just a year ago, according to AAA.
Gasoline prices have also helped fuel inflation to its highest level in 40 years, gobbling up household budgets and reaching President Joe Biden’s approval ratings.
“Transportation is the second biggest cost for American families, second only to housing,” Buttigieg said. The new standards, he said, will help strengthen the security of the United States and preserve “the freedom of our country to chart its future without being subject to other countries and the decisions that are made in the councils of administration of energy companies”.
But car dealers say tougher requirements are driving up prices and driving people out of an already pricey new-car market. NHTSA predicts the new rules will increase the price of a new 2029 model year vehicle by $1,087.
The Trump administration rolled back fuel economy standards, allowing them to increase by 1.5% per year, which environmental groups said was insufficient to limit greenhouse gas emissions that are warming the planet and fuel climate change. Standards had risen about 5% a year before.
But the new standards will not immediately match those adopted through 2025 under President Barack Obama. NHTSA officials said they will match Obama’s standards by 2025 and slightly exceed them for the 2026 model year.
Obama-era standards automatically adjusted to changes in the type of vehicles people bought. When they were enacted in 2012, 51% of new vehicle sales were cars and 49% SUVs and trucks. Last year, 77% of new vehicle sales were SUVs and trucks, which are generally less efficient than cars.
Some environmental groups have said the new NHTSA requirements under Biden don’t go far enough to tackle global warming. Others have backed the new standards as a big step towards lowering emissions, with the American Lung Association calling for even tougher standards to drive a transition to all new zero-emissions vehicles by 2035.
“Climate change has gotten way worse, but these rules only require automakers to cut gas mileage a little bit more than they agreed to cut nine years ago,” said Dan Becker, chief executive. from the Safe Climate Transport Center to the Center for Biological Diversity.
Officials said under the new standards, owners would save about $1,400 in gas costs over the life of a 2029 model year vehicle. Carbon dioxide emissions would drop by 2, 5 billion metric tons by 2050 by standards, NHTSA said.
Automakers are investing billions of dollars to develop and build electric vehicles, but say government support is needed to get people to buy them. Companies want government tax credits to cut prices as well as more money for electric vehicle charging stations to ease juice anxiety.
John Bozzella, CEO of the Alliance for Automotive Innovation, a major industry trade group, said increased regulation will require supportive government policies. Regulators should consider safety, consumer buying preferences, improved fuel economy and the transition to electric vehicles, he said in a statement.
NHTSA sets fuel economy requirements, while the Environmental Protection Agency sets limits on greenhouse gas emissions. NHTSA officials said their requirements nearly match the rules the EPA passed in December, so automakers don’t have to comply with two rules.
This story has been corrected to show that the current actual mileage requirement under Trump administration rules is 28mpg, not 24mpg.