New vehicles should average 40 mpg by 2026, up from 28 mpg

DETROIT (AP) — New cars sold in the U.S. will have to reach at least 40 miles per gallon of gasoline in 2026, up from about 28 mpg, under new federal rules unveiled Friday that cancel the rollback of Standards Enacted under President Donald Trump.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said its new requirements for fuel economy are the strongest yet 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 the vehicles, compared to Trump’s standards.

They are expected to reduce carbon dioxide emissions – but not as much as some environmentalists want – and raise new car prices in an industry already struggling with inflation and supply chain problems.

For the current model year, standards enacted under Trump require the new vehicle fleet to reach just under 28 miles per gallon in realistic driving. New requirements increase gas mileage by 8% per year for model years 2024 and 2025 and 10% for model year 2026.

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, whose department includes the NHTSA, said the rules would also help bolster national security by making the country less dependent on foreign oil and less vulnerable to volatile gasoline prices.. Gasoline nationwide has risen to an average of more than $4.22 per gallon, with much of the increase happening since Russia, the major oil producer.Ukraine invaded In late February. It cost $2.88 a gallon just one year ago, according to the AAA.

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Gas prices also helped push inflation to a 40-year highIt devours family budgets and reaches President Joe Biden’s approval ratings.

“Transportation is the second biggest cost to American families, after just housing,” Buttigieg said. He said the new standards would help keep the United States safer and preserve “the freedom of our country to chart its own future without being succumbed to other nations and to decisions made on energy company boards.”

But car dealers say the stricter requirements are raising prices and pushing people out of the market for new, already expensive cars. NHTSA predicts that the new rules will raise the price of a new car in the 2029 model year by $1,087.

The Trump administration has rolled back fuel-economy standards, allowing them to rise 1.5% a year, which environmental groups have said is insufficient to reduce emissions of the greenhouse gases that fuel climate change. Standards were rising about 5% annually previously.

But the new standards will not immediately match those adopted until 2025 under President Barack Obama. NHTSA officials said they will equal the Obama standards by 2025 and slightly exceed them for 2026.

Obama-era standards have been automatically adjusted for changes in the type of vehicles people buy. When released in 2012, 51% of new vehicle sales were cars and 49% were SUVs and trucks. Last year, 77% of new car sales were SUVs and trucks, which are generally less efficient than cars.

Some environmental groups have said new requirements from the NHTSA under Biden’s leadership do not go far enough to combat global warming. Others supported the new standards as a major step toward reducing emissions, with the American Lung Association calling for stronger standards to drive the transition to all new zero-emissions vehicles by 2035.

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“Climate change is getting much worse, but these rules only require automakers to reduce gas consumption a little more than they agreed to cut nine years ago,” said Dan Baker, director of the Center for Safe Climate Transportation at the Center for Biological Diversity.

Officials said that under the new standards, owners would save about $1,400 in gasoline costs over the life of the 2029 model. The NHTSA said carbon dioxide emissions would be reduced by 2.5 billion metric tons by 2050 under standards.

Automakers are investing billions of dollars to develop and build electric cars, but say government subsidies are needed to get people to buy them. Companies want government tax credits to cut prices as well as more money for electric vehicle charging stations to ease concern about running out of juice.

John Bosella, chief executive of the Alliance for Automotive Innovations, a large industry trade group, said the increased regulations will require supportive government policies. In a statement, he said regulators should consider safety, consumer buying preferences, improving fuel economy, and the transition to electric vehicles.

The NHTSA sets fuel economy requirements, while the Environmental Protection Agency sets limits on greenhouse gas emissions. NHTSA officials said their requirements roughly match rules approved in December by the Environmental Protection Agency, so automakers don’t have to comply with two rules.

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This story has been corrected to show that the current real-world mileage requirement under Trump administration rules is 28 mpg, not 24 mpg.

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