NHTSA Proposes Updated CAFE Standards: up to 10% Per Year

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has proposed new fuel economy standards for passenger cars, light trucks, and heavy-duty pickup trucks for model years 2027-2031. The new efficiency standards would require a two percent per year upgrade for passenger cars, four percent per year for light trucks (which includes sport utilities), and 10 percent per year for heavy-duty trucks. The rates for passenger cars and light trucks would compound at the same rates based on the previous year’s standard starting in 2032.

NHTSA projects that the proposed Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards would require a fleet-wide average for passenger cars and light trucks of roughly 58 miles per gallon in model year 2032. And a fleet-wide average of 2.6 gallons per 100 miles for heavy-duty pickups in model year 2038.

The proposal is expected to publish in the Federal Register and will then open for a 60-day public comment period. The NHTSA will engage with a broad set of stakeholders during this comment period. The proposed standards are meant to align with the Environmental Protection Agency’s recently proposed emissions standards for similar fleets.

Although electric and alternative (non-petroleum-based) fuels are not taken into account in its CAFE MPG requirements, they can be used for compliance to meet standards. Part of NHTSA’s proposal and request for commentary includes how these alternatives and combinations of standards should be implemented.