In an expected ruling, US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Gina McCarthy finalized her decision to maintain the current greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions standards for model years 2022-2025 cars and light trucks. (Earlier post.) The EPA says that a wide variety of effective technologies are available to reduce GHG emissions from cars and light trucks, and that automakers are well positioned to meet the standards through model year 2025 at lower costs than the agency earlier predicted.
The standards are projected to result in average fleet-wide consumer fuel economy sticker values of 36 miles per gallon (mpg) by model year 2025, 10 mpg higher than the current fleet average. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has yet to weigh in on the results of its midterm evaluation for fuel economy standards.
Reasons supporting the decision that the MY2022-20225 standards are appropriate included:
The Standards Are Feasible at Reasonable Cost, Without Need for Extensive Electrification. EPA analysis demonstrates that compliance can be achieved through a number of different technology pathways reflecting predominantly the application of technologies already in commercial production. Given the rapid pace of automotive industry innovation, EPA said it believes that there are, and will continue to be, emerging technologies that will be available in the MY2022-2025 time frame that could perform appreciably better at potentially lower cost than the technologies modeled in EPA’s assessment.
EPA further projects that the MY2022-2025 standards can be met largely through advances in gasoline vehicle technologies, such as improvements in engines, transmissions, light-weighting, aerodynamics, and accessories. The analyses further indicate that very low levels of strong hybrids and electric vehicles (both plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV) and electric vehicles (EV)) will be needed to meet the standards.
The Standards Will Achieve Significant CO2 and Oil Reductions. The footprint-based GHG standards curves for MY2022-2025 are projected to achieve an industry-wide fleet average CO2 target of 173 grams/mile (g/mi) in MY2025. The projected fleet average CO2 target represents a 2-cycle GHG emissions compliance level equivalent to 51.4 mpg-e (if all reductions were achieved exclusively through fuel economy improvements).
Top: Footprint-based CO2 (g/mile) light truck standards curves. Bottom: Footprint-based CO2 (g/mile) passenger car standards curves. Click to enlarge.
EPA projects that this GHG compliance level of 51.4 mpg-e could be met by automakers with average real world/label fuel economy of about 36 mpg. Given that the MY2016 real world fleet average fuel economy is about 26 mpg, this means that the fleet must improve real world fuel economy by about 10 mpg over the 9-year period from 2016 to 2025, or about one mpg per year.
The Standards Will Provide Significant Benefits to Consumers and to the Public. The net benefits of the MY2022-2025 standards are nearly $100 billion (at 3% discount rate), according to the EPA analysis.
Although EPA’s technical analysis indicates that the standards could be strengthened for model years 2022-2025, proposing to leave the current standards in place provides greater certainty to the auto industry for product planning and engineering, the agency said.
The Midterm Evaluation process was established as a part of the 2012 final greenhouse gas emissions standards for model years 2017-2025. This decision follows the Proposed Determination issued by the EPA Administrator in November 2016, and the Draft Technical Assessment Report, issued jointly by the EPA, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), and the California Air Resources Board (CARB) in July 2016. The Administrator considered the extensive public input on both these documents in reaching her final determination.