The Obama administration says that automobile makers must still strive to meet the fuel economy standards that it has set for vehicles produced in 2025, at 54.5 miles per gallon. Manufacturers have said that the goal is unrealistic and that it’s also one that the incoming Trump administration could undo.
Manufacturers had asked the Obama administration in November to extend the comment period. Essentially, car makers wanted the goal to be the one set in 2012, or between 35.5 miles-per-gallon and 39 miles-per-gallon, depending on the type of vehicle, all by 2016. But the EPA rejected that request last week, reasoning that doing so would effectively jeopardize the 2025 goal.
“The EPA continues to believe that the [decision] and the associated 30-day comment period remain appropriate and, therefore, the EPA is denying both the request for withdrawal and the request for an extension of the comment period,” writes acting assistant Administrator Janet McCabe to the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers.
The rule is a challenge to industry, although not necessarily one that even the Obama administration thinks will be met.
“54.5 isn’t a standard, never was a standard and isn’t a standard now. 54.5 is what we predicted, in 2012, the fleet-wide average could get to, based on assumptions that were live back then about the mix of the fleet,” a senior administration official said, as quoted in The Hill.
“That depended a lot on a variety of factors, including gasoline prices,” the official said. “We’re recognizing the fact that gasoline prices are lower now.” The Hill goes on to report that government agencies say that 50.8 miles per gallon is the best that some cars will do, although if gas prices spike, it could spur the sales of smaller cars and fuel efficiencies could hit 52.6.