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Report: 54.5 MPG (CAFE) Target Will Not Be Enforced After All

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US officials will not be enforcing the 54.5 mpg fuel efficiency target it previously had for 2015

Many Americans would still rather drive gas guzzling trucks and SUVs, rather than pilot a smaller and more efficient car

While US regulators report that automakers have all of the tools needed to reach the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) fleet-wide goal of 54.5 mpg by 2025, the demand for large trucks and SUVs in America has caused those same regulators to back off that targeted fuel efficiency for the auto industry.

In a report filed July 18th by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and California Air Resources Board (CARB), those agencies said that “Car makers and suppliers have developed far more innovative technologies to improve fuel economy and reduce GHG emissions than anticipated just a few years ago.”

The 54.5 mpg goal was the result of a 2011 agreement to reduce vehicle emissions and increase fuel economy, but officials now say that figure was never mandated, but rather was an approximation of what the industry should be capable of doing by 2025. Furthermore, that figure of 54.5 mpg was based around a guess that approximately 67% of the vehicles on the road would be cars, while trucks and SUVs would only account for 33% of the automobiles driven.

Because lower gas prices have inspired many Americans to invest in larger, gas guzzling vehicles, officials now believe there will be more of those types of vehicles on the road in 2025 than previously expected. Moreover, officials now project that overall fleet fuel economy will land somewhere around 50 mpg to 52.6 mpg for the 2025 model year.

However, some groups are saying the government is letting the auto industry off the hook too easily because the previous goal of 54.5 mpg would be achievable if automakers didn’t market trucks and SUVs so heavily.

“We are calling upon the EPA and NHTSA to ask the automakers about their promotion efforts and compare the fuel efficiency ratings of heavily promoted vs. less promoted vehicles,” said Jack Gillis, director of public affairs for the Consumer Federation of America. “The industry spends about $15 billion on advertising which has a great deal of influence on what consumers actually buy.”

The Environmental Protection Agency will make its final decision by April 1st regarding fuel economy regulations for 2022-2025 model year vehicles.

News Sources: Automotive News (subscription required), Consumer Affairs