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Biden administration sets 50 miles per gallon fuel economy standard for 2031

The Biden administration tightened fuel economy standards for cars and SUVs Friday, issuing rules that officials estimate will push the average efficiency of new vehicles beyond 50 miles per gallon by 2031.

The rules, issued by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, call for improvements over a five-year span starting with 2027 models, and are projected to cut fuel consumption by 70 billion gallons of gasoline by 2050. The fuel savings translate into about $600 less in gas costs over the life of a new vehicle, NHTSA projects.

The final version of the standards is weaker than an initial proposal by the agency that automakers argued would be all but impossible to meet.

The fuel economy standards published Friday are designed to complement emissions rules set by the Environmental Protection Agency in March, and take into account efforts led by state regulators in California to spur the adoption of electric vehicles. Private cars and trucks are a major source of carbon emissions, and a key part of the Biden administration’s environmental agenda involves pushing for a dramatic increase in the number of battery-powered vehicles on roads.

Automakers can comply with the new standards by both improving the fuel efficiency of their gas-burning vehicles and by boosting the number of models they produce that run on electricity.

“Not only will these new standards save Americans money at the pump every time they fill up, they will also decrease harmful pollution and make America less reliant on foreign oil,” Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said in a statement.

The response from environmental advocates to the new rules was mixed, with some arguing they don’t go far enough and others praising them as an important step forward.


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“Today’s final rule is another important step toward reducing carbon pollution and curbing climate change,” said Harold Wimmer, president and chief executive of the American Lung Association. “The new fuel efficiency requirements for new cars, SUVs and pickup trucks are beneficial for consumers and for health. More efficient vehicles will save lives and money.”

In addition to challenging the stringency of the proposals, the auto industry had raised concerns that by pursuing different sets of overlapping rules, the administration risked creating legal pitfalls for automakers. But officials said different agencies had worked to collaborate on the standards. John Bozzella, chief executive of the Alliance for Automotive Innovation, said NHTSA appeared to have issued a “rule that works with the other recent federal tailpipe rules.”

The Biden administration has taken several steps to get more drivers into electric vehicles, backing tax credits for purchases and investing in a network of public chargers. But sales growth has slowed in recent months, as the size of the electric fleet outpaces the number of places to plug in.

The push has also faced opposition from Republicans. Donald Trump, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, has said he would ditch climate rules issued by Biden.

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