NHTSA Proposed Fuel Efficiency Standard Aims for Fleetwide Average of 48 MPG by 2026

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration this week issued a proposed rulemaking that would require automakers to achieve an 8 percent annual improvement in fuel efficiency for model years 2024-2026.

The new fuel efficiency requirements are significantly more stringent than the 1.5 percent annual gains in fuel efficiency set by the Trump administration in 2020.

The NHTSA proposed fuel efficiency targets translate into a fleetwide standard of approximately 48 mpg, 8.7 mph greater than the Trump Administration’s goal. However, these are laboratory attained standards. Real world fuel economy is generally 20 to 30 percent lower than fuel economy achieved in the laboratory.

NHTSA is also proposing two alternative fuel economy standards to the one outlined above:  A less stringent alternative based on the California Air Resources Board fuel efficiency standards that would achieve a 5.3 mpg improvement over the Trump era standard, and a more stringent efficiency standard that are the same the Obama administration set in 2012 that would result in a 11.9 mpg more than the Trump 2020 standards would have achieved.

The NHTSA proposed rule follows the EPA’s separate proposed rulemaking issued last week to require more stringent tailpipe emissions for model years 2023 through 2026.

The EPA’s proposal is part of President Biden’s program to achieve a 50 percent market share for electric vehicle sales in the US by 2030.

NHTSA will take public comment on its proposal for 60 days upon publication in the Federal Register. EPA is taking public comment on its own tailpipe emissions proposal through September 27, 2021.

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