NHTSA Issues Final Numbers for CAFE 2027+ Standards

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The U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has issued new vehicle fuel economy standards for model years 2027-2031. These final Corporate Average Fuel Economy rules increase fuel efficiency requirements by 2 percent for model years 2027-2031 and the same amount for light trucks for models years 2029-2031.

This change will bring the average light-duty vehicle fuel economy requirement up to about 50.4 miles per gallon by the 2031 model year.

Heavy-duty pickup truck and van (HDPUV) requirements will be required to increase by 10 percent for model years 2030 to 2032 and 8 percent for model years 2033-2035. This will end with a fleetwide average MPG of about 35 by model year 2035.

These NHTSA standards complement the emissions requirements set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for similar vehicle fleets. The NHTSA says that these MPG requirements will work in hand with the EPA’s emissions requirements during the same time periods.

The standards apply to gasoline-powered vehicles and to diesel-powered vehicles in a manufacturer’s fleet. Electric vehicles that do not have a combustion engine, however, are not included in these requirements except as offsets for the rest of the fleet. This means that the NHTSA CAFE requirements do not apply to non-combustion vehicles (which includes battery-electric and hydrogen fuel cell models). But those models will create offset credits of around 300-400 mpg starting in 2027 when the rules take effect. That value will decrease over time using the Department of Energy’s Petroleum Equivalency Factor, but will remain at about 120-130 mpg after 2029.

The original intent of the new CAFE standards was to encourage the production of electric vehicles to raise overall MPG without requiring significant changes to combustion engine operation outside of emissions improvements.

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