US sets 55 miles per gallon fuel efficiency standard for 2026 models
WASHINGTON – The Biden administration on Monday raised fuel efficiency standards for passenger cars and light trucks, saying the new standards will reduce pollution and save consumers billions of dollars at the gas pump.
Automakers are set to achieve an average 55 mpg for their entire fleet for cars and light trucks by the 2026 model year, up from the administration’s standard of 43 mpg Trump for that year. The fleet-wide mileage standard for the current 2021 model year is 40 mpg.
The new rules will save U.S. drivers between $ 210 billion and $ 420 billion in fuel costs through 2050, the Environmental Protection Agency said. Even after factoring in higher purchase prices for cleaner vehicles, each buyer would still save about $ 1,000 over the life of their vehicle starting in model year 2026, the EPA said.
The new standard will also help reduce pollution from the transportation sector, the number one source of greenhouse gas emissions in the country.
“We are setting robust and rigorous standards that will aggressively reduce the pollution that harms people and our planet, while saving families money,” EPA Administrator Michael Regan said during of a signing ceremony in front of the agency’s headquarters, where it was flanked by models of electric vehicles and a charging station.
Auto industry lobbyists say they will struggle to meet the higher standards without federal support for the conversion to electric vehicles, which is now in doubt.
The $ 2 trillion social spending and climate bill passed by the House is said to have provided around $ 20 billion in tax credits to electric vehicle buyers, in addition to other funding to boost investment in domestic battery manufacturing and factories. But on Sunday, Sen. Joe Manchin (D., W.Va.), the deciding vote, said he would oppose the bill, likely condemning the package as it is currently drafted.
The Alliance for Automotive Innovation, the lobby group for auto manufacturers and suppliers, said it would be difficult to achieve higher fuel standards without the types of measures included in Build Back Better.
“Achieving the goals of this Final Rule will undoubtedly require the adoption of supportive government policies, including consumer incentives, substantial infrastructure growth, fleet requirements, and manufacturing and development support. supply chain in the United States, ”said John Bozzella, group president.
Eric Mayne, spokesperson for Jeep manufacturer Stellantis NV, said the EPA’s announcement “underscores the urgency of adopting a wide range of complementary policies, including vehicle purchase incentives, to the manufacture and establishment of a nationwide charging infrastructure, to stimulate a market change. ”
The new rules will take effect 60 days after their publication in the Federal Register – expected before the end of the year – and will apply to vehicles from model year 2023, according to the EPA.
The standards announced Monday are stricter than those initially proposed by the EPA in August. The package Mr Regan signed on Monday limits the flexibility of automakers in how they count the emissions of their fleets. In theory, this reduces pollution faster. It also makes it more difficult for businesses to comply.
Automakers, who applauded the August proposal, said the changes could undermine the program. Stricter rules are likely to increase up-front costs, which could discourage consumer adoption of zero-emission cars and trucks, a problem that could worsen if Congress does not approve further subsidies , said lobbyists.
Mr Regan told reporters that the agency’s analysis showed the industry will be able to comply even without Congressional changes. And environmentalists have pointed to industry trends, saying companies are likely to move in that direction even if they’re not happy with the exact scope of the rules.
“It’s ultimately a stronger rule,” said Ramón Cruz, president of the Sierra Club, who had been part of an effort by environmental groups to pressure the EPA for tougher rules beyond the proposal. August. “For car manufacturers, this is the future. If you want to stay competitive, you have to.
The 55 mpg requirement equates to about 40 mpg in actual driving with stops and starts, the EPA said.
The EPA estimates that companies can comply for the 2026 model year with electric vehicle sales at around 17% and with increased use of efficiency technology.
U.S. consumers have been slow to switch to electric vehicles, which are expected to account for 3-4% of sales this year, Deutsche Bank analysts say. Auto analysts say drivers’ anxiety about running out of power and the scarcity of charging stations is a major barrier to wider adoption.
New funding for a nationwide network of charging stations was included in the $ 1 trillion infrastructure bill enacted this fall. Atlas Public Policy, a Washington-based research firm, said the $ 5 billion spending increase represents more money than government agencies, utilities, and states have collectively spent on charging infrastructure at this time. day.
President Biden’s new package effectively restores the Obama administration’s rules that were relaxed under former President Donald Trump. Trump-era rules will remain in effect until model year 2022, but next year, auto fleets will need to increase their efficiency by 9.8%. After that, the standards will increase by 5-10% per year, reaching 55 mpg by 2026.
Mr Biden said the establishment of stricter rules now would also push US companies to catch up with their competitors in China, which has become a world leader in batteries and electric vehicles. Automakers will find it easier to meet the standards when they encourage more drivers to buy electric vehicles that produce zero tailpipe emissions.
The goal of electrifying transportation is widely supported by scientists and climate advocates to reduce the climate impacts of cars. When cars burn gasoline, they immediately release carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Reducing fuel consumption can reduce these emissions, but it’s easier to eliminate them by powering cars through the electric grid, which is rapidly switching to solar, wind and other cleaner energy sources.
Automakers have fought for more stringent fuel efficiency standards for years, but before Mr Biden’s election, the industry shifted its focus to developing electric vehicles. Ford engine Co.
, for example, predicts that 40% of global vehicle sales volume will be electric by 2030.
The transportation sector accounted for 29% of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions in 2019, making it the largest source of carbon dioxide from fuel combustion and exceeding the emissions created by the production of electricity and industrial operations. Passenger cars and trucks are the main source of transportation, accounting for more than a sixth of all emissions in the country, according to the EPA.
The sector’s carbon dioxide emissions, the most abundant greenhouse gas, have increased 24% since 1990, according to federal data.
—Ben Foldy contributed to this article.
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