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US EPA, DOT adopt fuel economy and GHG standards for light-duty vehicles

6 April 2010

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the US Department’s of Transportation (DOT) National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) have finalized new rules that set the first-ever federal greenhouse gas (GHG) emission standards and tighten the corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) standards of all new passenger cars and light trucks sold in the United States. The new standards, which strengthen in each model year from 2012 through 2016, are expected to result in an average MY 2016 vehicle emission level of 250 g CO2/mile and 34.1 mpg (6.9 L/100 km) CAFE fuel economy.

DOT and EPA received more than 130,000 public comments on the September 2009 proposed rules, with support for the national policy. The adopted federal regulations will allow manufacturers to build a single vehicle fleet that satisfies all federal requirements as well as the standards of California and other states. Furthermore, in conjunction with the United States, Canada adopted Light Duty Vehicle GHG-Emissions regulations that are aligned with the US requirements. US EPA and NHTSA have worked closely with Environment Canada to ensure a common North American approach.

According to EPA estimates, the new national program:

The adopted standards are based on CO2 emissions-footprint curves, where each vehicle has a different CO2 emissions compliance target depending on its “footprint” value (related to the size of the vehicle). Generally, the larger the vehicle footprint, the higher the corresponding vehicle CO2 emissions target. As a result, each manufacturer will have its own fleet-wide standard which reflects the vehicles it chooses it produce. The following table shows the projected fleet-wide CO2 emission and fuel economy requirements. The EPA CO2-equivalent fuel economy figures are different from the CAFE figures because the EPA allows additional CO2 credits for air conditioning improvements.

Projected Fleet-Wide CO2 And Fuel Economy Compliance Levels
Vehicle Category & StandardModel Year
Passenger cars CO2, g/mi263256247236225
CO2 equiv. mpg33.834.736.037.739.5
CAFE mpg33.334.234.936.237.8
Light trucks CO2, g/mi346337326312298
CO2 equiv. mpg25.726.427.328.529.8
CAFE mpg25.426.026.627.528.8
Combined Cars & Trucks CO2, g/mi295286276263250
CO2 equiv. mpg30.
CAFE mpg29.730.531.332.634.1

Automobile manufacturers will meet these standards by more widespread adoption of conventional technologies, such as more efficient engines, transmissions, tires, aerodynamics, and materials, as well as improvements in air conditioning systems. Although the standards can be met with conventional technologies—said the EPA and NHTSA—some manufacturers are also expected to pursue more advanced technologies like hybrid vehicles, clean diesel engines, plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, and electric vehicles.

The adopted rules also include a system of averaging, banking, and trading (ABT) of credits, based on a manufacturer’s fleet average CO2 performance. Credit trading is allowed among all vehicles a manufacturer produces, both cars and light trucks, as well as between companies. A number of further program flexibilities include:

While the CAFE program allowed manufacturers to pay fines in lieu of meeting fuel economy standards, under the Clean Air Act manufacturers cannot pay fines for noncompliance with the CO2 emission standards. The EPA has established a Temporary Lead-time Allowance Alternative Standards (TLAAS) program that will provide additional lead time for meeting the standards for manufacturers with limited product lines who have traditionally paid CAFE fines to the NHTSA.

Source: US EPA