NHTSA Intensifies Fleet Fuel Efficiency Standards for Automakers

Due to an executive order last year, NHTSA has increased the standard fuel efficiency that carmakers’ fleets are required to have. Read on to learn more.
Written by Hannah DeWitt
Reviewed by Kathleen Flear
Updated on May 31, 2022
By 2026, automakers must improve their vehicles to achieve an average of 49 mpg across their car models and light trucks, according to an updated rule set by the
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
(NHTSA). While the edict exempts SUVs and heavy-duty trucks, the updated rules will result in
savings at the pump
for many consumers. Read on to learn more about the NHTSA’s plans, and how
can help you save on car insurance.

President Biden ordered the updated rule

The NHTSA updated its rules for new passenger cars and light trucks being released. The final fuel economy standard set by the NHTSA meets requirements set in the executive order issued by President Joe Biden on January 20, 2021.
The EO directed all government agencies to "immediately review" and take action to amend federal rules in conflict with "work to confront the climate crisis." As a part of this mandate, the NHTSA reviewed its rule "The Safer Affordable Fuel-Efficient (SAFE) Vehicles Rule for Model Years 2021-2026 Passenger Cars and Light Trucks."

Update expected to reduce U.S. gas consumption

According to
, the original NHTSA CAFE standard issued in 1975 reduced U.S. oil consumption by about 500 million barrels per day.
With the NHTSA’s updated rules, the Administration expects the new standard will reduce U.S. gas consumption by about 200 billion gallons of gasoline by 2050. According to the Department of Energy, one barrel of oil produces about 19 gallons of gas.

How will automakers transition to the new standards?

Automakers will be making this transition to the new standard over a period of years. Currently, the estimated fleet average sits at about 39 mpg.
The updated rule requires an eight percent fuel economy improvement by 2024 and 2025. By 2026, the improvement figure will rise to 10 percent, which gets each automaker to the 49 mpg requirement for a fleet-wide average.
The changes could raise the average cost of vehicle purchase, but the estimated increased costs would add less than $2,000 to car prices.

What this means for U.S. auto owners

Drivers of ICE cars in the U.S. would be saving money on gas, seeing as the same amount of gas would be getting them farther than it used to. 
Typically, American cars feature fuel tanks that hold between 10.5 and 18.5 gallons of gas. The smaller size tanks usually appear in hatchbacks, subcompact, and compact cars. Sedans usually feature the larger sized tanks.
According to
, the national average cost per gallon of gas in April 2022 is $4.24. That means it costs a driver of a compact or smaller vehicle about $44.52 to fill up at the pump. At the current CAFE mpg of 39 mpg, they can travel for 409.5 miles on a single tank of gas.
The increased rate of 49 mpg by 2026 would mean that spending the same $44.52 would result in the individual's vehicle traveling 514.5 miles on a single tank of gas. That's an extra 105 miles traveled.

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