NHTSA proposes tightening fuel economy regulations in the U.S.

NHTSA proposes tightening fuel economy regulations in the U.S.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), an agency under the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), has proposed new fuel economy regulations for personal vehicles and light trucks in the United States. If approved, average light-duty vehicles could hit an impressive 58 miles per gallon (MPG) by 2032. That’s up from the 49 mpg required by 2026 under the current rules. 

The proposal was made public last Friday, triggering a 60-day review period involving a wide range of stakeholders. The process invites feedback from unions, consumers, states, environmental advocates, and auto manufacturers. Furthermore, it sets the stage for better fuel economy in heavy-duty trucks and work vans.

If the new standards get the green light, Americans could see significant savings at the gas pump and enhanced national energy security. NHTSA’s cost-benefit analysis estimates a net benefit of more than USD18 billion. 

“Improved vehicle fuel efficiency means greater energy security nationwide and more savings for Americans,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg.

The proposed fuel economy standards align with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposed emission regulations for similar vehicle classes. The agencies aim to increase the efficiency of the standards while reducing compliance costs.

This proposal backs the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, minimising air pollution, and helping Americans reduce fuel costs. 

“These standards could push the auto industry to innovate, benefitting the nation and all Americans,” said NHTSA Acting Administrator Ann Carlson.

As part of the proposal, NHTSA suggests a 2% yearly improvement in fuel efficiency for passenger cars, and a 4% yearly improvement for light trucks, starting from 2027 and escalating until 2032.

Though NHTSA does not take electric and other alternative fuels into account in setting the standards, manufacturers may use all available technologies—including advanced internal combustion engines, hybrid technologies and electric vehicles—for compliance. 

In conclusion, the proposed changes could save more than USD50 billion in fuel costs, reduce oil dependency by saving more than 88 billion gallons of gasoline through 2050, and prevent more than 900 million tons of CO2 emissions.