Things Are Getting Tougher For Automakers With Gas-Guzzling Cars

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From the 2027 model year, automakers must adhere to the NHTSA's new economy standards.

New fuel economy standards are set to be proposed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) for the 2027 model year.

Expected to be detailed in April, these new fuel economy standards have the potential to "dramatically reshape new cars on America's roads" as the move towards a zero-emissions future continues. Previously, a goal was set for manufacturers' annual production fleets to reach 52 mpg by 2026, which raised concerns for supercar brands especially.

The proposal is expected to be finalized within a year and will include regulatory alternatives. This announcement by the NHTSA comes around a month after the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said that new vehicle automotive fleet fuel efficiency remained flat in 2021.

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The EPA also has plans for new stringent vehicle greenhouse gas emissions standards from 2027 through at least 2030, which are set to be announced by March this year. It's all part of a crackdown on automakers to introduce more electric vehicles and improve the efficiency of the gas-powered cars still in production.

In March 2022, the NHTSA said that it would be implementing higher penalties for automakers who don't meet efficiency requirements for 2019 model year cars and newer.

At the time, it was estimated that this would cost Stellantis over $570 million. Remember, this is a company with gas-guzzling beasts like the Dodge Charger under its umbrella.

2021-2023 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Frontal Aspect Dodge 2021-2023 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Engine CarBuzz
2021-2023 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Frontal Aspect
2021-2023 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Engine

What is unknown about the NHTSA's new fuel economy guidelines is whether they will be consistent with California's own efforts to phase out gas cars by 2035. Steven Cliff, California Air Resources Board Executive Officer who was also NHTSA administrator until September, told Reuters that the federal government should "look at stringency that's equivalent to our rules. We're 68% zero emissions in 2030 so modeling that and looking at that as an option for 2030 is absolutely critical."

By now, it's well-known that the Biden administration has set a goal for half of all new vehicle sales to be EVs or plug-in hybrids by 2030. Until that happens, automakers who still sell gas cars will be under increasing pressure to make them more efficient or face hefty fines. That said, the NHTSA has not yet collected penalties for 2019-2021 model year vehicles as it is still evaluating and gathering data.

The industry will be watching closely in April when the NHTSA details its new fuel economy standards.

Bad Gas Mileage Pexels 2020 Chevrolet Silverado 2500HD Front View Driving Chevrolet
Bad Gas Mileage
2020 Chevrolet Silverado 2500HD Front View Driving
Source Credits: Reuters

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