EPA, DOT reopen, expand review of fuel economy rules

EPA, DOT reopen, expand review of fuel economy rules

When official notice was published reopening the midterm review of the 2025 fuel economy rules, many were surprised and the auto industry was pleased. The mid-August notice in the Federal Register by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Transportation Department fulfilled a pledge the EPA made in March to reopen the rules approved in January, days before President Trump took office.

The 2011 law originally set up a midterm review for models years 2022 and 2025 to be completed by April 2018, which the Obama administration finished more than a year early. But now the EPA has also invited comments on standards for MY 2021, when automakers must meet a combined corporate average fuel economy of 41 mpg.

In addition, the Federal Register notice adds 10 new factors that the public can comment on, including the standardsê impact on consumersê buying behavior and –the extent to which consumers value fuel savings from greater efficiency of vehicles.” The EPA seeks comments on the agencyês past approaches to forecasting and projecting auto technologies, including costs, technology penetration rates and technology performance.

NADA has emphasized in its previous comments the need to take into account shifting consumer preferences to more trucks and SUVs. A former director of the EPAês Office of Transportation and Air Quality told the Washington Post that the new factors reflect –direct input” from automakers. Automakers have pressed the Trump administration since the beginning of his term for revised fuel economy standards.

Analysts have said that an easing of the fuel economy standards will not change manufacturersê product plans, as the long product lead time means they are prepared to meet the more stringent standards. Plus they will have to meet tougher standards in Europe. But the problem with the U.S. standards is that automakers are judged on sales, not on technological capability. And trucks and SUVs continue to outsell more fuel-efficient cars.

–We thank Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao and EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt for working closely together to harmonize a review driven by the most current data, consumer preferences and marketplace realities,” said Mitch Bainwol, president and CEO of the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers.

The Detroit Three will see the most immediate benefit from more relaxed standards, analyst Gopal Duleep told the Detroit News, because of their preponderance of truck sales. But, he added, they will fall behind in the future as automakers compete internationally to increase sales in the growing number of countries moving toward electric vehicles. U.S. dealers simply want a ready supply of whatever sells.

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