US Fuel Economy Rollback Plan Nearly Ready

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The Trump administration is nearly ready to reveal several different options for rolling back Obama-era vehicle fuel economy regulations, according to Bloomberg, and could unveil the plans as early as next week. Not only would the rollbacks ease Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards put in place under former US President Barack Obama, but they could also recommend freezing fuel economy standards for vehicles from model years 2020 through 2026, a source has told Bloomberg.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) proposal will also attempt to clamp down on the California Air Resources Board’s (CARB) threats to diverge from the EPA and NHTSA and maintain stricter fuel economy rules for CARB states, saying that a 1975 law prohibits it, Bloomberg‘s source says. The CARB has aligned with federal regulators on fuel economy regulations for several years, although the organization has said in the past that it would break off and enforce stricter rules if the Trump administration made good on promises to review and rollback the Obama-era CAFE rules.

Ford and other US automakers have been accused of lobbying to overturn the existing federal fuel economy rules, which would gradually increase manufacturers’ minimum mandated average fuel economy fleet-wide until 2025, when it would stand at 54.5 miles per gallon. Note that that figure is according to the NHTSA’s older, more optimistic testing process; in the real world, a vehicle meeting that requirement could be expected to achieve closer to just 32 or 33 mpg.

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Back in April, three different US environmental advocacy groups staged a protest outside Ford’s Washington, D.C. offices involving 300 alarm clocks set up along the sidewalk, calibrated to go off simultaneously as a “wakeup call” for Ford on the topic of global climate change as a result of tailpipe emissions. Ford is one of numerous automakers with business in the US that is represented in D.C. by the lobbying group Auto Alliance, which began pressuring the Trump administration as early as February, 2017 to overturn the Obama-era fuel economy regulations.

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Written by Aaron Brzozowski

Aaron Brzozowski is a writer and motoring enthusiast from Detroit with an affinity for '80s German steel. He is not active on the Twitter these days, but you may send him a courier pigeon.

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3 Comments

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  1. Again, the problem is the footprint incentives. It encourages automakers to make bigger cars & CUVs to meet less stringent fuel economy and emission standards. CAFE killed station wagons because they fell into the “Dead Zone”.

  2. Those standards helped garner in some of the best performing and efficient engines and some of the best innovations in technologies in the last 30 years of the auto industry. Tough to meet? No doubt. But in my mind, the ones winning are consumers.

    To think, 10 years ago Ford was putting a 1990s era 4.6L V8 which was of course a reliable, but old and under-powered engine. To 4 cylinders making more power, being more efficient, and more competitive overall. V6s that make more power than the V8s and V8s that make more power than ever more reliably.

    I guess it was just too “hard” for the auto industry to innovate. Oh wait, it wasn’t. Just uncomfortable.

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