Automakers Miss U.S. Fuel Economy Targets For First Time Since 2004

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If the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s preliminary findings are true, it could validate manufacturers’ concerns that the U.S.’s 2025  fuel economy goals are too lofty.

The NHTSA recently published a Feb. 14 report in which it said model year 2016 cars and light trucks are expected to average 32.1 mpg, which is 1/2 mpg shy of the 32.8 mpg target, according to Bloomberg. The figures presented reportedly are based on fuel mileage information provided by automakers, and the NHTSA has yet to independently confirm them.

Major manufacturers have appealed to both President Donald Trump and newly appointed Environmental Protection Agency administrator Scott Pruit to revisit the 2025 target of 51.4 mpg.

As part of the regulations, which manufacturers agreed to in 2011, the EPA was to conduct a “mid-term” review to see if the goals were still attainable. It had until April until to firm up the long-term targets, but did so in January before the Obama administration left office.

The EPA reportedly estimates model year 2017 vehicles will miss the mark yet again, averaging 31.8 mpg, rather than the 33 mpg goal. Some experts suggest this could support automakers’ claims that the targets aren’t feasible, but Dave Cooke, senior vehicles analyst for the Union of Concerned Scientists, said that’s not the case.

“That says nothing about their ability to meet the regulations,” Cooke told Bloomberg. “It simply shows there’s a limit to their current compliance strategy, and eventually they need to buck up and actually put that technology out there.”

Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass., admits loosening the standards could increase profitability for manufacturers by allowing them to make more SUVs, but he fears it also could result in another gas-guzzler epidemic like the U.S. had pre-recession, according to the Detroit Free Press.

“Making this U-turn on fuel economy is the wrong way to go,” Markey told Freep.

Markey reportedly also stressed the implementation of the EPA’s standards has reduced the U.S.’s carbon emissions by “millions of tons.”

Thumbnail photo via Chevrolet

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