Real-world mileage standard for new vehicles rises to 38 mpg by 2031 under new Biden rule

WASHINGTON — New vehicles sold in the U.S. will have to average about 38 miles per gallon of gasoline in the real world by 2031, up from about 29 mpg this year, under new federal rules unveiled Friday by the Biden administration.

The final rule will increase fuel economy by 2% per year for the 2027 to 2031 model years for passenger cars, while SUVs and other light trucks will increase by 2% per year for the 2029 to 2031 model years, according to National Highway requirements. Road Safety Administration.

The final figures are under a proposal released last year. Government officials said the less stringent requirements will give the auto industry the flexibility to focus on electric vehicles, adding that higher gasoline consumption requirements would have imposed significant costs on consumers without enough fuel savings to offset them.

President Joe Biden has set that goal half of all new vehicles sold in the US by 2030 are electric, part of his efforts to combat climate change. Gasoline vehicles are the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the US.

The 50% sales figure would be a huge increase from current EV sales, which rose to 7.6% of new vehicle sales last year, up from 5.8% in 2022.

Even as he promotes electric cars, Biden needs the auto industry's cooperation and political support from auto workers, a key political voting bloc, as the Democratic president seeks reelection in November. The United Auto Workers union has supported Biden but has said it wants to ensure that the transition to electric vehicles does not cause job losses and that the industry pays high wages to workers who build electric vehicles and batteries.

Biden's likely opponent, former President Donald Trump, and other Republicans have done so as well denounced Biden's push for electric cars as unfair to consumers and an example of government force majeure.

The new standards will save nearly 70 billion gallons of gasoline through 2050, preventing more than 710 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions by mid-century, the Biden administration said.

“These new standards will not only save Americans money every time they fill up, they will also reduce harmful pollution and make America less dependent on foreign oil,” Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said in a statement. “These standards will save car owners more than $600 in gasoline costs over the life of their vehicle.”

The Highway Safety Agency said it has tried to draft its regulations to align with the new rules Environmental Protection Agency rules tightening tailpipe emissions standards. But if there are discrepancies, automakers will likely have to follow the strictest regulations.

In the Byzantine world of government regulation, both agencies are essentially responsible for setting fuel economy requirements, since the fastest way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions is to burn less gasoline.

The fuel economy figures used by The Associated Press reflect real-world driving conditions, including factors such as wind resistance, hills and the use of air conditioning. Because of these factors, real-world figures are lower than the mileage standard suggested by NHTSA.

“These new fuel economy standards will save our country billions of dollars, help reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and make our air cleaner for everyone,” said NHTSA Deputy Administrator Sophie Shulman.

John Bozzella, president and CEO of the Alliance for Automotive Innovation, a leading industry group, said the Biden administration “appears to have landed on a CAFE rule that runs in tandem with the other recent federal exhaust rules.” Bozzella used an acronym for the fuel standards, which are officially known as the corporate average fuel economy rules.

“At some point,” Bozzella added, “we will have to talk about whether there is a real need for CAFE (standards) in a world that is rapidly moving toward fleet electrification.

Fuel economy standards are “a holdover from the 1970s,” Bozzella said, “a policy to promote energy savings and energy independence by making internal combustion vehicles more efficient. But those vehicles are already very efficient. And EVs don't burn anything. They don't even have an exhaust.”

Dan Becker of the Center for Biological Diversity, an environmental group, called the new rules inadequate.

The Highway Safety Agency is supposed to set strict standards for gasoline-powered vehicles, he said, “but instead it sat on its tailpipes, giving automakers the freedom to make cars, SUVs and pickups that will last for decades to come.” guzzle and pollute and keep America alive. is stuck with oil.”

The administration “bowed to pressure from automakers, with a weak rule that only required a 2% annual improvement in fuel economy,” Becker said, adding that the rule does not meet the agency's own requirement to uphold the standards to technologically bring fuel consumption to the maximum level. feasible level.

NHTSA said the rule includes a 10% improvement per year for commercial pickup trucks and work trucks. Automakers can meet the requirements with a mix of electric vehicles, gas-electric hybrids and efficiency improvements in gasoline and diesel vehicles.

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