The 49 mpg standard, a roughly 33% improvement from the current average of 36 mpg, applies to cars and light trucks, such as pickups and SUVs, in model year 2026, which will start hitting showrooms in late 2025.
The increase to a standard 49 mpg “means if you’re filling up four times a month, that would become three times a month by model year 2026,” he said.
“Better fuel economy is going to continue to reduce our reliance on foreign oil and protect families from future price spikes, which of course is top of mind today, as we deal with the impacts from Putin’s war,” Buttigieg said.
“Even if all of the oil we use in the USA were made in the USA, the price of it is still subject to powers and dynamics outside of the USA,” he added. “Until we achieve a form of energy independence that is based on clean energy created here at home, American citizens will still be vulnerable to wild price hikes like we’re seeing right now.”
The fuel economy rules are also a linchpin to the administration’s plans to battle climate change and cut carbon emissions by 50% to 52% below 2005 levels by 2030.
“The transportation sector in America is our largest source of climate pollution and a major contributor to local air quality challenges,” said Buttigieg.
The Alliance for Automotive Innovation, an industry trade group, estimated in December that automakers have committed to invest $330 billion by 2025 in the transition to EVs.
Automakers are also counting on financial support for that transition, such as increased tax credits for EV buyers. The Biden administration’s proposals for that change were included in its Build Back Better legislation, which has so far been blocked in the Senate.
“Increased regulatory requirements for automakers will require supportive policies,” said Alliance CEO John Bozzella.