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NHTSA may drastically reduce fuel economy requirements

Motor Trend logo Motor Trend 2/11/2018 Motor Trend Staff
2015 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat burnout3© Motor Trend Staff 2015 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat burnout3

In 2011, automakers reached an agreement with the Environmental Protection Agency, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and the California Air Resources Board to steadily improve average fuel economy between 2017 and 2025. Now, seven years later, it looks like the NHTSA is considering reducing those requirements.


Automotive News reports that the NHTSA is evaluating a variety of options, one of which would only require automakers to achieve a 35.7-mpg fleet average by 2026, about 11 mpg less than the current requirement of 46.6 mpg. Other options being evaluated would change the rules less drastically.

Importantly, though, the testing used to calculate corporate average fuel economy doesn't necessarily reflect real-world driving. For example, 50 mpg by CAFE standards is actually closer to 36 mpg.

Unfortunately for automakers, trucks and SUVs are more popular than they've ever been. Meanwhile, diesels have fallen out of favor with U.S. customers, and plug-in hybrid sales have yet to really take off.

But no matter what the NHTSA decides, don't expect CARB to support any changes. "It's clear that in order to stay competitive globally, the U.S. auto industry needs to keep pace with the rest of the world. That's where California is moving," a CARB spokesperson told Automotive News. "It is unwise for the federal government to set the clock of automotive technology back a decade."

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