The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency officially announced its rejection to renew an Obama-era mandate requiring automakers to push for higher fuel economy standards on light vehicles. This is the latest development from previous rumors that the U.S. government would repeal former President Barack Obama’s fuel economy standards from last week.
In 2012, the Obama administration signed in new fuel economy standards for Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) requirements. In essence, it takes a single automaker and considers the average fuel economy rating of each model vehicle it produces, then combines those averages into one single average score for the company as a whole.
For example, the CAFE requirements take the average fuel economy ratings for all the vehicles BMW makes under all of its portfolios. Then, those scores are averaged up, leading to BMW’s CAFE score. The same process would give its rivals, Audi, a similar score, and Mercedes-Benz, and so on. The Obama administration’s mandate required all automakers to average up a Corporate Average Fuel Economy rating of 54.4 miles per gallon by the year 2025.
This ultimately was to encourage automakers to innovate and reduce fuel consumption. Some of the results from the mandate led to trends such as engine downsizing, forced induction (the reason why some cars no longer offer V6s, because of turbo-fours), and transmissions with as many gears as a mountain bike. This mandate is also why hybridization and electrification is all the buzz these days.
Now, under EPA chief Scott Pruitt’s reign, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency rejected to renew this 54.4 mpg CAFE mandate.
“The Obama Administration’s determination was wrong,” Pruitt noted in a statement. “Obama’s EPA cut the Midterm Evaluation process short with politically charged expediency, made assumptions about the standards that didn’t comport with reality, and set the standards too high.”
Additionally, Pruitt noted that the EPA will revise the rules, but didn’t go into any further detail.
This comes at an already crazy time for emissions control and fuel economy standards as the state of California recently vowed to make its Clean Air Act regulations even stricter, putting the U.S.’s largest car market and the Trump administration in a political head-to-head.
Pruitt responded on Twitter:
Cooperative federalism doesn’t mean 1 state can dictate standards for the rest of the country. @EPA will set a nat’l standard for GHG emissions that allows auto manufacturers to make cars ppl want & can afford, while still expanding environmental & safety benefits of newer cars.
— Administrator Pruitt (@EPAScottPruitt) April 2, 2018
This could potentially mean a huge weight was lifted off the shoulders of automakers. Perhaps, less stringent CAFE rules could also mean automakers won’t have to take drastic and shady moves, such as Volkswagen’s “Dieselgate.” This, of course, is speculation. Nonetheless, it’s going to be interesting to see how the EPA will proceed.