The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has finalized its draft fuel efficiency requirements for auto manufacturers ahead of the expected date. The regulations are aimed at increasing fuel efficiency to over 50 miles per gallon on average, while reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and final formalization of the requirements is expected before April 2018.
There is some uncertainty about whether these regulations might be overturned during a Trump presidency. The president-elect has openly questioned whether emissions are related to climate change, and has appointed Myron Ebbel to develop a transition strategy for the EPA.
The EPA has said that the new requirements are realistic and achievable based on a 2015 study by the National Academy of Sciences. To date, vehicle manufacturing companies have used new engine technologies, electric and hybrid vehicles, improved aerodynamics and lightweighting strategies to reduce emissions and improve fuel efficiency. These strategies have also been welcomed by consumer associations thanks to reductions in consumer fuel costs.
Analysts have remarked that although the average fuel efficiency target of 54.5 miles per gallon seems large, “adjustment factors” will be taken into account, resulting in fuel consumption of between 35 and 75 miles per gallon in real terms. Adjustment factors include carbon credit trading, and the size of the vehicle. Smaller cars would therefore have a fuel efficiency of about 61.1 miles per gallon, while the biggest trucks would realize fuel efficiency levels of between 30.2 and 50.4 miles per gallon.
If the new regulations are enforced, they would result in further fuel-efficiency progress, building on the industry’s 26 percent improvement in fuel economy between 2004 and 2014.
The early announcement of the new fuel efficiency regulations is believed to be a strategy on the part of the Obama administration aimed at preventing a Trump administration from easing the pressure that emissions reduction and fuel efficiency targets place on car makers.