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U.S. EPA releases draft report on review of emissions and fuel economy standards for MY 2022-2025 vehicles

U.S. automotive manufacturers are innovating and bringing new technology to market at a rapid pace and should be able to meet the Model Year 2022-2025 standards established in 2012 with a wide range of cost-effective technologies, according to a report published jointly by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the U.S. Department of Transportation and the California Air Resources Board.

“Auto makers are developing far more technologies to improve fuel economy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, at similar or lower costs, than we thought possible just a few years ago,” said Janet McCabe, acting assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation.

Under standards set in 2012, U.S. vehicle fleets were expected to get an average of 54.5 miles per gallon (mpg) by 2025.

According to the report, these standards can be achieved by relying primarily on advanced gasoline vehicles. It said, “modest levels” of hybrid electric technology and “very low levels” of full electrification of cars would be needed.

The report further states that manufacturers will be able to meet the stricter standards at similar or even lower cost than was anticipated in the 2012 rulemaking.

The report kicks off a two-year review that will determine whether to keep the 2025 fuel economy and greenhouse gas emissions targets in place for light-duty passenger cars and trucks or change them. That review will culminate in a final EPA decision, by April 2018 at the latest, on whether to keep the standards as they are or adjust them, depending on technological and market developments.

The U.S. National Program does not set a single fuel economy target number for all vehicles, but instead it establishes separate footprint-based standards for passenger cars and light trucks. A manufacturer’s compliance obligation depends on the mix of vehicles that it produces for sale in each model year – if a manufacturer produces mostly larger vehicles, its average standard will be less stringent than if it produces mostly smaller vehicles, reflecting the reality that smaller vehicles often have better fuel economy and lower carbon emissions than larger vehicles. This approach ensures that consumers can continue to choose from the full range of fuel-efficient vehicles on the market, and at the same time, it improves the fuel efficiency and emissions for all types of vehicles.

The report also cited research on the impact of lower gasoline prices on U.S. car sales, which are encouraging consumers to purchase less fuel-efficient sport utility vehicles (SUVs) and pick-ups. Since the 2025 target was established in 2012, U.S. gasoline prices have dropped by about 40%, with the current national average at about USD 2.25 per gallon.

Pick-up trucks and SUVs currently make up about 57% of new U.S. car sales every month. If this trend continues, the U.S. vehicle fleet would only reach 50.8 mpg by 2025, the report projects.

The U.S. government’s required fuel economy standard today is a fleet-wide average of 35.5 mpg, which, based on various formula, translates to a window sticker average of 27 mpg.