Vehicles Must Hit 40 MPG by 2026 Under New Rules

Rules reverse Trump's rollback, but some environmental groups wanted more
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Apr 1, 2022 3:45 PM CDT
Vehicles Must Hit 40 MPG by 2026 Under New Rules
Traffic jams Route 93 south last July in Boston.   (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

New vehicles sold in the US will have to average at least 40 miles per gallon of gasoline in 2026, up from about 28mpg, under new federal rules unveiled Friday that undo a rollback of standards enacted under President Trump. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said that its new fuel economy requirements are the strongest to date and the maximum the industry can achieve over the time period. They will reduce gasoline consumption by more than 220 billion gallons over the life of vehicles, the AP reports, compared with the Trump standards.

They're expected to decrease carbon dioxide emissions—but not as much as some want—and raise new vehicle prices in an industry already pressed by inflation and supply chain issues. For the current model year, standards enacted under Trump require the fleet of new vehicles to get just under 28mpg in real-world driving. The new requirements increase gas mileage by 8% per year for model years 2024 and 2025, and 10% in the 2026 model year. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said the rules will help strengthen national security by making the country less dependent on foreign oil and less vulnerable to volatile gasoline prices.

But auto dealers say more stringent requirements drive up prices and push people out of an already expensive new-car market. NHTSA projects that the rules will raise the price of a 2029 vehicle by $1,087. Some environmental groups said the requirements don't go far enough to fight global warming. Others supported the new standards as a big step toward reducing emissions, with the American Lung Association calling for even stronger standards to drive a transition to all new vehicles having zero-emissions by 2035. "Climate change has gotten much worse, but these rules only require automakers to reduce gas-guzzling slightly more than they agreed to cut nine years ago," said Dan Becker of the Safe Climate Transport Center.

(Read more gas mileage stories.)

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