SUV Loophole Threatens Outcomes of 54 MPG Fuel Economy Standards

An interesting loophole managed to find its way into the new fuel economy standards, which require cars and light trucks to reach 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025.

The proposed standards, which are currently in the comment period, have received wide acceptance, even from the auto industry.

But the rules allow automakers to raise the fuel efficiency of light trucks, which conveniently include SUVs, much more slowly than for cars.

Calling SUVs "light trucks" is the same loophole that led to the boom in gas-guzzling SUVs. Automakers favored building SUVs to take advantage of the weaker standards, which effectively stagnated fuel economy for 20 years. 

Leaving this loophole will spur production of even more SUVs, and the auto industry is attempting to weaken these already-inadequate standards.   

The new fuel economy standards should require SUVs to reach the same standards at the same time as cars.

Also, several standards in the rules would actually allow greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles to increase, rather than requring them to decline each year, as they should.

And the rules allow automakers to make small, incremental improvements on existing technology, rather than focusing on  innovation. As a result, in 2025, the U.S. fleet would still do no better than what some cars can already achieve today. 

Rather than pushing the industry to make more efficient, smaller vehicles, the rules support building more trucks and SUVs that won’t have to improve their mileage standards at the same rate as passenger cars. Overall, these rules will mean that greenhouse gas emissions from our transportation sector will still
increase
.

And the US will still lag behind the European Union, China and Japan, as we do today.  

20% of all greenhouse gas pollution in the US comes from the
cars and light trucks we drive. Improving fuel economy and GHG standards is the single, easiest way to reduce our nation’s carbon footprint.

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