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Consumer Reports to testify at NHTSA hearing in favor of stronger fuel economy standards

  • Consumer Reports analysis of NHTSA’s proposal says the agency’s “Alternative 3” would restore almost all of the consumer benefits of the Obama-era CAFE standards

  • CR says NHTSA’s current proposal does not go far enough to help consumers or the environment

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Consumer Reports policy analysts will testify at an October 13 hearing held by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), in support of stronger corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) standards than those currently proposed by the agency. Over 30 consumer activists mobilized by CR are also registered to testify.

On September 3, NHTSA released its preferred alternative for new fuel economy standards for cars and light trucks manufactured between 2024 and 2026, which regulate how far vehicles must be able to travel on a gallon of gasoline. NHTSA’s proposal also presents additional options for the public’s consideration, and CR is recommending the agency move forward with their Alternative 3. CR’s analysis shows that Alternative 3 saves consumers more money on gas costs while improving air quality and helping to mitigate the ongoing climate crisis. 

“We are pleased to see NHTSA moving quickly to reverse the previous administration’s rollback of strong fuel economy standards. The Biden administration promised bold action to reduce vehicle emissions, so it is critical that NHTSA sets maximum feasible fuel economy standards right now. The agency’s own analysis of its proposal demonstrates that Alternative 3 results in a 10 percent per year improvement in fuel economy, while NHTSA’s preferred alternative only results in an 8 percent per year improvement.” says Dr. Quinta Warren, associate director of sustainability policy at Consumer Reports.

Stronger fuel economy standards can bolster consumer vehicle choice, giving car shoppers access to a wider range of fuel efficient vehicles, which is something CR knows consumers are interested in and want. A nationally representative survey conducted by CR in July and August 2020 found that 73 percent of respondents said the federal government should continue to increase fuel economy standards, and 74 percent said automakers have a responsibility to consumers to improve gas mileage.

“NHTSA has the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of all Americans right now. That’s why CR is calling on the agency to strengthen its proposed standards to make up for lost time. We need NHTSA to restore the consumer benefits of the Obama-era CAFE standards as soon as possible” says Chris Harto, senior policy analyst for Consumer Reports, “Automakers have proven time and again that they will not deliver the fuel savings that consumers want and need without strong standards in place.”

In addition to the public hearings, individuals will have the opportunity to submit written comments to NHTSA regarding its proposal until October 26. NHTSA will also begin work, under an executive order issued by President Biden on August 5, to develop fuel economy standards for cars and light duty trucks for model years 2027-2030. 

Contact: Carsen Mata, carsen.mata@consumer.org