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Biden administration targets 52 mpg fuel economy regulations by 2026

And the EPA lays the groundwork for stricter regulations to come in 2027.

President Biden with Jeep Wrangler PHEV
President Biden drives a Wrangler PHEV around the White House grounds to tout US automakers' electrified future.
Win McNamee/Getty Images

This past Friday, the Biden administration delivered on its goal of updated fuel economy regulations with a set of proposals to replace the Trump Administration's SAFE rules. The Environmental Protection Agency targets an average fleet standard of 52 mpg come 2026. This proposal includes a 10% boost for the 2023 model year in fuel efficiency standards and 5% increases through 2026. It's a much larger jump than the Trump era's 1.5% increases, which would lead to an average fleet standard of 43.3 mpg by 2026. The latest regulations also go a touch further than the Obama administration's rules, originally in place through 2025.

This proposal also lays the groundwork for stricter regulations to come in 2027, according to the EPA, "to speed the transition of the light-duty vehicle fleet toward a zero emissions future." The Biden administration and major automakers last Thursday announced a voluntary pact aiming to make 50% of all vehicles sold in the US by 2030 electric.

The agency added that the proposed rules focus on cutting emissions and saving drivers money at the pump; more efficient vehicles cost less to fill up. The flip side, and an argument for Trump's looser regulations, is automakers may pass costs associated with fuel-saving technology onto consumers when they buy a new vehicle. The EPA said Monday these regulations would save 290,000 million barrels of oil, while the Trump administration's plan would increase oil consumption by 500,000 barrels per day.

Light-duty vehicles are only part of the EPA's scope. The agency went further saying it will begin work on a series of rules for the heavy-duty truck sector, starting in 2022. These regulations will come in 2027 and "set new standards for criteria pollutants for the entire sector as well as targeted upgrades to the current 'Phase 2' greenhouse gas emissions standards for that model year." A second set of standards for the segment is due in 2030.

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