Despite automakers lobbying for the EPA to re-open the review of the upcoming CAFE regulations for the years 2022-2025, there’s a weaving narrative unfolding despite the potential of relaxing emission and fuel economy standards. That is, that automakers will continue to develop fuel efficient technologies and vehicles.
The Detroit Free Press reports executives from major automakers convened at a Dearborn, Michigan, conference last Thursday to discuss the possibility of relaxed regulations. The verdict? It may provide flexibility to sell more trucks in certain areas, but automakers themselves will continue pushing for fuel efficient technologies.
Specifically, billions of dollars have already been invested in lightweighting, fuel efficiency and other areas to develop more sustainable vehicles. Executives called reversing on those investments impractical. Furthermore, even if the United States were to relax its regulations, automakers still compete in a global climate. Vehicles are often sold in various countries around the world, and other countries have even more stringent regulations than the U.S.
“We’re all global companies. We have to design our vehicles to be fuel efficient not only in the U.S., but in Europe and Asia,” said John Juriga, director of powertrain at the Hyundai-Kia technical center near Ann Arbor.
The EPA concluded the current regulations are flexible enough for automakers to meet the requirements during the Obama administration, expecting new vehicle prices to rise $875 as a downside to the regulations. However, the EPA stated that cost would be offset by $1,620 in savings at the gas pump.
With the Trump administration, it’s likely we will see the regulations pulled back somewhat from their current standards. But automakers, and states like California, will be the final say on whether reduced regulations are taken advantage of.