By TOM KRISHER – AP Auto Writer
DETROIT (AP) — New vehicles sold in the United States must average at least 40 miles per gallon of gasoline in 2026 under new rules unveiled Friday by the government.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said its fuel economy requirements would reverse a rollback of standards enacted under President Donald Trump. The new requirements increase gas mileage by 8% per year for the 2024 and 2025 model years and by 10% for the 2026 model year.
For the current model year, standards enacted under Trump require the fleet of new vehicles to achieve just over 24 miles per gallon in real world driving.
Agency officials say the requirements are the maximum the industry can achieve over time and will reduce gas mileage by more than 220 billion gallons over the life of vehicles compared to Trump standards.
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Trump’s administration has eased fuel economy requirements so they’ve increased by 1.5% a year, which environmental groups say isn’t enough to limit the greenhouse gas emissions that drive climate change.
But the new standards will not immediately match those adopted by 2025 under President Barack Obama. NHTSA officials said they will meet Obama standards by 2025 and will slightly exceed them for the 2026 model year.
Obama-era standards were automatically adjusted to reflect changes in the types of vehicles people buy. When they went into effect in 2012, cars accounted for 51% of new vehicle sales and 49% for SUVs and trucks. Last year, SUVs and trucks, which are generally less efficient than cars, accounted for 77% of new car sales.
Some environmental groups said NHTSA’s new requirements under President Joe Biden do not go far enough to combat global warming.
“Climate change has gotten much worse, but these rules only require automakers to cut gas mileage a little more than they pledged nine years ago,” said Dan Becker, director of the Safe Climate Transport Center at the Center for Biological Diversity.
He said the final rule was about 2mpg short of the strongest alternative NHTSA considered.
Officials said that under the new standards, owners would save about $1,400 in gasoline costs over the lifetime of a 2029 model year vehicle. Carbon dioxide emissions would fall below standards by 2.5 billion tons by 2050, the NHTSA said.
The agency did not provide figures on how much the standards would increase vehicle costs. Car dealers say stricter requirements are driving up prices and pushing people out of an already expensive new car market.
The NHTSA sets fuel economy requirements, while the Environmental Protection Agency develops greenhouse gas emission limits. NHTSA officials said their requirements almost match rules passed by the EPA in December, leaving automakers free of two rules.
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