In a surprise move, the US Environmental Protection Agency announced it would maintain model year 2022-2025 fuel economy and greenhouse gas standards that would require automakers to nearly double their fleetwide fuel efficiency by 2025. The announcement cut short a formal review process for these standards and came well ahead of schedule.
The standards, set in 2012, require automakers to achieve a light-duty fleetwide average of 54.5 miles per [US] gallon by the 2025 model year. Because the standards were set so far in advance, a 'midterm review' was added as a check point to evaluate whether earlier assumptions about fuel prices, the cost of technology and electric vehicle adoption rates were correct. A final decision on the 2022-2025 model-year standards was required by April 2018 but EPA unexpectedly accelerated the process.
Ford and other automakers criticised the EPA's action as an attempt to short circuit the evaluation process.
"We remain committed to improving the fuel economy for our customers in a way that also preserves consumer choice, vehicle affordability and American jobs," said Zia Oakley, group vice president, government and community relations at the automaker. "It is deeply disappointing that 11th-hour politics in a lame-duck administration has short-circuited a data-driven process for developing regulation."
The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, which represents Ford and 11 other automakers, called it an "extraordinary and premature rush to judgement."
"The two pillars of this important fuel economy programme since day one have been the concept of One National programme and the equally important commitment to a rigorous, fact-based midterm review," the alliance said. "Now, it seems, both pillars have been compromised. There is neither One National programme nor a credible midterm review."
Ford has been a strong advocate for One National programme that brings together the EPA, NHTSA and the California Air Resources Board (CARB) with automakers to avoid a patchwork of state regulations. Automakers have worked to ensure the regulations are harmonised between the three regulators but differences still exist.
Ford has made significant fuel efficiency gains through light-weighting, Ecoboost engine technology and electrification; however, there are other technologies that have the potential to reduce greenhouse gases not captured in the way fuel economy standards are measured. By circumventing the midterm review, the EPA has limited the ability to incorporate new CO2 reducing technologies into the standard.
"We can only achieve our environmental and safety goals if families and businesses can afford to purchase these new vehicles," Oakley said. "That is why we will work closely with the next administration and congress to find a way forward."