Clean Vehicles Policy Hub Overview
Today, more consumers are asking: How does my vehicle impact the environment, and are there cleaner vehicles that fit my transportation needs? Many car buyers want to know how much it would cost to buy, fuel, and maintain a vehicle that needs less gas, generates less pollution, and produces fewer emissions.
Right now, the U.S. has an opportunity to dramatically reduce tailpipe pollution and greenhouse gas emissions from transportation and keep up with consumers’ growing interest in electric vehicles (EVs). New standards could improve vehicle fuel efficiency and make cleaner vehicles more accessible and affordable to more people nationwide.
Consumer Reports is analyzing and weighing in on government policies that could advance the adoption of cleaner cars and trucks, such as EVs and plug-in hybrids (PHEVs).
This online hub provides information about our work on federal and state standards for improving fuel efficiency and reducing emissions from cars and light-duty trucks, as well as tax incentives and other savings for purchasing electric vehicles.
You’ll also find survey data, reports, fact sheets, videos, and more content about low- and zero-emission vehicles, and how we can create a more sustainable future.
FEDERAL CLEAN VEHICLES POLICY
EPA Light-Duty Vehicle Emissions Standards for Model Year 2027 and Later (April 2023)
- In April 2023, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed new standards for multi-pollutant emissions from passenger cars and trucks. Consumer Reports said the proposal is a huge step forward, but there is room for improvement to maximize the benefits for consumers and the environment. Read CR’s news story about the proposed standards and our press release.
- CR testified at the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment & Public Works’ Subcommittee on Clean Air, Climate, and Nuclear Safety hearing on the EPA’s proposed new standards. Read CR’s testimony and our press release.
EPA Light-Duty Vehicles Greenhouse Gas Standards for Model Year 2023 and Later (August 2021)
In August 2021, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a proposal to reinstate more substantial light-duty vehicle (LDV) greenhouse gas (GHG) standards. Consumer Reports filed formal comments in support of the move, but cautioned that the EPA’s preferred proposal would only recover ~75% of the consumer and climate benefits of the original standards, and would leave significant consumer savings on the table. Read CR’s comment letter. In December 2021, the EPA finalized a stronger rule, and CR issued a press release about the benefits of the rule for consumers.
NHTSA CAFE Standards Through Model Year 2026 (October 2021)
Consumer Reports filed formal comments with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), urging the agency to set more robust corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) standards that yield most of the consumer benefits of the Obama-era standards set in 2012 and increase the total consumer savings from the proposal by 50 percent, delivering $140 billion in net consumer savings through model year 2029. Read CR’s formal comment letter and press release upon finalization of the rule.
ELECTRIC VEHICLE (EV) INCENTIVES
Consumer Benefits of the Inflation Reduction Act’s (IRA) EV Tax Credits (August 2022)
The Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) is a landmark piece of climate legislation that will bring cleaner, cost-saving technologies to consumers. In 2022, CR supported the IRA and discussed how EV tax credits can benefit consumers. Learn more about how CR took action:
- Consumer Reports submitted testimony and testified on the consumer benefits of the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) to the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis in September 2022.
- Consumer Reports submitted comments to the IRS in December 2022 to provide input on how the IRA EV tax credits can be implemented to maximize usefulness for consumers.
- CR’s press statement applauded the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA).
- CR published an article on EV Tax Credits in the Inflation Reduction Act: More SUVs, Teslas Now Qualify for the New Electric Vehicle Tax Credit.
- In the Talking Cars podcast episode “Making sense of EV tax credits in the Inflation Reduction Act” in February 2023, Consumer Reports breaks down the current rules for new, used, and leased EVs and hybrids, and how consumers can take full advantage of the program to save money.
STATE CLEAN VEHICLES POLICY
California Advanced Clean Cars II (ACCII) Rule (August 2022)
Consumer Reports praised California’s final Advanced Clean Cars II rule, which will rapidly scale down vehicle emissions in the light-duty sector by requiring all new passenger cars, trucks, and SUVs sold in California to be zero-emission or plug-in hybrids by the year 2035. Read CR’s submitted comments on the proposed rule.
State Adoption of ACC II (December 2022)
Consumer Reports praised state officials in Oregon and Washington’s action in adopting clean car rules requiring all new vehicles sold in these states to be zero-emission or plug-in hybrid by 2035. Read CR’s statement.
CR ANALYSES & REPORTS
Excess Demand – The Looming EV Shortage (March 2023):
A 2023 analysis from Consumer Reports shows that the consumer demand for electric vehicles is surging, far outpacing supply, and automakers who fail to respond quickly to shifting preferences risk losing market share. Read CR’s report.
Vehicle Price Trends: Fuel Economy and Safety Improvements Come Standard (February 2023):
Consumer Reports analysis shows that more stringent fuel economy standards do not increase vehicle prices. Read CR’s report.
Fuel economy survey (March 2023):
A nationally representative survey by Consumer Reports finds Americans continue to identify fuel economy as an important factor when shopping for a vehicle. Read CR’s report.
Battery Electric Vehicles and Low Carbon Fuel Survey (July 2022):
This survey measured Americans’ knowledge and experiences with electric-only vehicles, their likelihood of getting one, their perceptions about barriers preventing them from purchasing, and incentives that would encourage them to get one. Read CR’s report.
- View the ethnic/racial data breakdown from CR’s EV survey in English and Spanish
- View the gender data breakdown from CR’s EV survey
Electric Vehicle Ownership Costs: Today’s Electric Vehicles Offer Big Savings for Consumers (October 2020):
This study estimates how much today’s most popular EVs cost consumers to buy, own and operate compared to similar internal combustion engine vehicles. Read CR’s report.
Rising Trend of Punitive Fees on Electric Vehicles Won’t Dent State Highway Funding Shortfalls but Will Hurt Consumers (September 2019):
Consumer Reports research found that several states tax electric vehicle drivers at rates much higher than the average driver pays in gas taxes. Read CR’s report.
- View state fact sheets on EV fees (September 2019-April 2022)
LEARN MORE ABOUT EVs:
Consumer Reports put together videos addressing the advantages, misconceptions, and unknowns around EV adoption. Watch these short and informative videos on EVs: Are EVs Really Better for the Environment; 5 Things You Didn’t Know About EVs (Spanish version); Charging Your EV on the Road (Spanish version); How to Maximize Your EV Range (Spanish version).
Check out CR’s factsheet: EV Basics for Policymakers.
HOW ELSE IS CR WORKING TOWARDS A SUSTAINABLE TRANSPORTATION FUTURE?
Consumer Reports is looking closely at low carbon fuels (LCF). Visit CR’s LCF online hub for information about the different types of LCFs and the kinds of vehicles and technologies that can use these fuels. We also explore how we can shape policies to make these fuels better for consumers and easier to adopt. You’ll find survey data, fact sheets, white papers, and more content about LCFs and how they could be a solution for a more sustainable transportation future—View CR’s resource page on low carbon fuels.
To get buying information and tools for EVs and hybrids, visit CR’s EV and Hybrid hub.