Car Industry

Trump administration may revise 2021 fuel efficiency regulations

New administration, new opinions on how to regulate. It's as simple as that.

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When a new president takes the mantle, there can be radical changes to regulations put in place by the previous administration. President Trump's Department of Transportation seems pretty intent on revising fuel economy standards, if a new statement is any marker.

The US Department of Transportation announced Tuesday that it might revise Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards starting with the 2021 model year. Regulators might suggest freezing upcoming 2021 fuel-economy standards through 2025, as opposed to increasing them year over year, as part of a new environmental impact study, Reuters reports.

Dialing back CAFE regulations could put the US at odds with governments around the world, many of which are dedicated to reducing emissions quickly.

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This enhances the scope of the DOT's revision by one model year, as it was originally looking at revising fuel-economy standards starting in 2022.

This shouldn't come as a surprise, as candidate Trump promised to limit regulations deemed onerous. Automakers and others have occasionally griped that the current federal standards through 2025 will be expensive to achieve and are not aligned with the buying trends of the general public, who flock to larger vehicles when gas prices show a hint of dropping.

The current set of regulations was put in place in 2011, during the Obama administration. The goal is to achieve a fleet-wide average fuel economy of 54.5 mpg by 2022. CAFE figures are calculated differently, so a mandate of 54.5 mpg would be closer to 35-37 mpg by EPA measurements. The EPA decided in late 2016 to leave the current standards in place, well ahead of its April 2018 deadline. That decision was, of course, considered for revision almost immediately after President Trump named Elaine Chao to head the DOT.

When the president first announced his intent to revisit CAFE mandates, the reaction was mixed. California's Governor Jerry Brown basically threatened to break from the revised standards and hold to the stricter regulations. A group representing multiple automakers applauded the decision, while suppliers offered mixed feelings.