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Consumer Reports: New rules for fuel efficiency could deliver benefits for consumers, but there’s much room for improvement

Proposal from Department of Transportation’s NHTSA aims to improve vehicle fuel efficiency for new passenger cars, light-duty trucks


WASHINGTON, D.C. –  The U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) today announced a proposal for improved fuel economy standards for new passenger cars and light-duty trucks. The proposed Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards aim to improve vehicle fuel efficiency by 2% per year for cars and 4% per year for light trucks from 2027 through 2032. 


Consumer Reports (CR) is a longtime advocate for fuel economy standards that make it possible for car shoppers to find vehicles that go further on a gallon of gas – or no gas at all.  CR is advocating for strong rules that increase the production of a wide range of vehicles that help save consumers money on fuel, while reducing air pollution that impacts public health. 


A nationally-representative survey by Consumer Reports in 2022 shows that fuel economy is important to American consumers when they are shopping for a new vehicle. 70 percent of American drivers say fuel economy is “very important” or “extremely important” to them when considering what vehicle to purchase or lease, and 95 percent of Americans say fuel economy is at least somewhat important to them. 


A recent analysis by Consumer Reports showed that stringent fuel economy standards have delivered over $7,000 in fuel savings from the average vehicle over the past two decades, without increasing vehicle prices. Most Americans (85%) agree or strongly agree that automakers should continue to improve fuel economy for all vehicle types, and almost as many (82%) agree or strongly agree that making larger vehicles more fuel efficient is important.


NHTSA’s proposed rule for fuel economy comes a few months after the Environmental Protection Agency proposed new standards to reduce emissions from new vehicles.


Dr. Quinta Warren, associate director of sustainability policy at Consumer Reports, said: “We thank NHTSA for this proposal, but it can go much further to make use of currently available technologies to maximize the benefits to consumers, in terms of cost savings at the pump, and reduced emissions.”


Chris Harto, senior policy analyst for Consumer Reports’ sustainability policy team, said: “There is a lot of room for improvement, and we look forward to the opportunity to work with NHTSA to help strengthen this rule. A strong CAFE rule will provide multiple benefits to consumers. It will encourage automakers to continue improving fuel efficiency of gasoline powered vehicles while automakers transition to electric vehicles. It will also provide an important incentive for automakers to ensure that their electric vehicle fleets are as efficient as possible.”  


NHTSA’s CAFE standards require automakers to achieve a certain average fuel economy across their entire fleet. Automakers have flexibility to meet fuel efficiency standards through a range of vehicle types, including traditional automobiles with advanced engine technologies, hybrids, plug-in hybrids and electric vehicles.  CR supports a stronger CAFE standard which will ensure more efficient vehicle options and lower fueling costs for consumers.