President Donald Trump has delayed increased fuel economy compliance penalties for automakers following a request from an auto industry lobbying group.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced Wednesday that it had granted a petition to the Washington, D.C.-based Alliance for Automotive Innovation to delay increased penalties for automakers that do not meet Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards until the 2022 model year.
Congress previously voted to raise these fuel economy penalties to fall in line with inflation, prompting the NHTSA to raise the fines from $5.50 to $14 for every 0.1 mile per gallon new cars and trucks consume in excess of the required CAFE standard. These fines were originally intended to come into effect for 2019 model year new vehicles, but the Trump administration decided to suspend the new regulations, leading to a court battle over the matter and leaving the incoming regulations hanging in the midst.
This decision, which comes just a week before president-elect Joe Biden is set to enter office, could save the automaker hundreds of millions or billions of dollars in compliance costs. According to Reuters, the Alliance for Automotive Innovation praised the decision Wednesday, saying that many of the vehicles that would have been subject to the increased penalties have already been sold or will be manufactured in the near future.
“Today’s interim rule ensures that the increased CAFE civil penalty rate will not be applied retroactively to previous model years, or with design and manufacturing plans that cannot be changed to improve fuel economy,” the NHTSA announcement said.
The fines for not meeting CAFE standards have only been increased once since they were first implemented – growing from $5 for every 0.1 mile per gallon over the set limit to $5.50.
The incoming administration is expected to place a greater emphasis on environmental policies than the Trump admin, including with regard to vehicle fuel economy and C02 emissions targets.