US report says proposed 2017 fuel economy targets are realistic

A new report from the National Research Council (NRC) has backed the original analysis undertaken by US federal agencies in helping to set standards for fuel economy and greenhouse gas emissions of new light-duty vehicles (passenger cars and light trucks).

The report was undertaken by an 18-member committee of the NRC, a private non-profit group that advises policymakers.

One of the key findings of the NRC report is that the US government’s basic assumptions in relation to its 2012 agreement with the auto industry were broadly sound with regard to technological progress and costs.

In 2012, the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (which regulates fuel economy) and the US Environmental Protection Agency (which regulates greenhouse gas emissions) proposed new unified standards for fuel economy and greenhouse gas emissions over the years 2017 to 2025.

The NRC report showed that these standards were formulated after thorough research by the government which was generally of a high quality.

The report also found evidence suggests that the standards set will lead the new light-duty vehicles to become lighter but not less safe.

But despite the positive notions put forward in regards to the analysis of fuel economy and greenhouse gas emissions, the report also highlighted the need for government agencies to re-examine certain issues in a mid-year review.

These issues include better cost estimates for certain technologies, studying consumer behaviour and how much value they place on fuel economy, and the effectiveness of certain technologies.

Standards set by The Corporate Average Fuel Economy require US vehicles offered for sale must attain an average fuel economy of 40.3 to 41 mpg by 2021, and 48.7 to 49.7mpg by 2025.

These standards will require US vehicle fleets to improve their fuel economy by roughly double by 2025.

To meet the increasingly stringent fuel economy and greenhouse gas emission regulations set by the Obama administration, the NRC report indicated that automakers will drive the development of new powertrain designs, alternative fuels, advanced materials and significant changes to the vehicle body.

These developments in reaction to meeting the standards will help make new vehicles in the US more fuel-efficient, lighter, and help reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Standards for medium and heavy-duty vehicles

In light of the standards for light-duty vehicles being implemented, the US Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration are jointly proposing standards for medium and heavy-duty vehicles that would improve fuel efficiency and cut carbon emissions.

The proposed vehicle and engine performance standards would cover models between 2021 and 2027, and apply to semi-trucks, large pickup trucks and vans, as well as buses and work trucks.

The proposed standards are expected to lower CO2 emissions by approximately 1bn metric tonnes and cut fuel costs by $170bn.