Fuel Economy: New Vehicles Must Average 40 MPG by 2026

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The Biden administration aims to ensure that future cars get better gas mileage than earlier models by requiring all new vehicles to average at least 40 miles per gallon starting in 2026. The requirement represents a 53% increase in fuel economy compared to the previous standard.

The new mileage requirements, announced by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration on April 1, are up from 28 mpg under former President Donald Trump, the AP reported.

The NHTSA said the new standards are the strongest ever and represent the maximum the auto industry can achieve given the short time frame. The agency estimates gasoline consumption will be reduced by more than 220 billion gallons over the life of all vehicles vs. the Trump-era standards.

The higher gas mileage requirements should also decrease carbon dioxide emissions, though not by as much as some environmentalists would like.

“Climate change has gotten much worse, but these rules only require automakers to reduce gas-guzzling slightly more than they agreed to cut nine years ago [under President Barack Obama],” Dan Becker, director of the Safe Climate Transport Center at the Center for Biological Diversity, told the AP.

Meanwhile, you can expect new car prices to rise even further from the record highs established in recent months. Even the NHTSA concedes that the new rules will raise the price of a new vehicle in the 2029 model year by $1,087.

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But government officials argue that toughening the gas mileage standards will solve far more problems than they create, and they say that the higher sticker prices will be offset by gasoline savings.

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said the new rules will make the U.S. less dependent on foreign oil and less vulnerable to volatile gas prices, which have hit historic highs of about $4.20 a gallon since the Russian invasion of Ukraine. High gas prices have contributed to the country’s steepest inflation rate in 40 years.

Under the new rules, car owners should save about $1,400 on gas over the life of a 2029 vehicle, the NHTSA estimates. The standards would reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 2.5 billion metric tons by 2050.

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