Though the rule has yet to be finalized, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration or NHTSA just proposed new fuel economy standards that would dramatically raise the fuel economy for new vehicles by 2032.
The NHTSA asserts the new fuel economy standards will “strengthen energy security” and “save Americans hundreds of dollars at the gas pump,” with estimated total benefits to U.S. drivers of $18 billion.
The new fuel economy standard calls for fuel efficiency to rise by 2 percent annually for passenger vehicles and 4 percent for trucks starting in 2027. The potential ending average fleet fuel economy by the time the standard reaches a new equilibrium in 2032 is 58 miles per gallon (mpg).
The proposal advances even stronger fuel economy increases for commercial vans and pickup trucks. Starting in 2030 the NHTSA suggests fuel efficiency should increase 10 percent every year, with the latest round of increases ending in 2035. The NHTSA says the new proposed standards would reduce Americans’ fuel spending by $50 billion, cut gas use by 88 billion gallons by mid-century, and slash carbon dioxide greenhouse gas emissions by 900 million tons.
The NHTSA’s latest fuel economy standards build atop previous changes instituted by the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) at the behest of U.S. President Joe Biden. Biden issued an executive order in April 2022 to which the NHTSA responded with new standards calling for makers of passenger cars and light trucks to boost fuel efficiency.
The new fuel economy standards called for an 8 percent yearly increase between the 2024 and 2025 model years and a 10 percent increase in 2026. This raised NHTSA fuel economy to 49 mpg by 2026, which alone was expected to cut fuel consumption by 200 billion gallons through 2050.
Notably, the NHTSA standards do not have the force of law, and are instead meant to provide suggested guidelines to automakers. The fuel economy proposal also matches up to proposed EPA rules, which if adopted would have legally binding effects.
The EPA proposed very strict emissions standards in April, intended not so much to prompt improvements in ICE fuel economy as to hasten the adoption of EVs. The Alliance for Automotive Innovation lobby group said the emissions guidelines appear counterproductive since they will push automakers toward using limited resources to develop improved ICE vehicles rather than focusing on EVs.
The General plans to introduce 30 new electric vehicles globally by 2025, recently claiming it will have EVs in one third of automotive segments by that year. The segments in question are the most popular, accounting for 70 percent of vehicle sales each year.