The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency have released the finalized Safer Affordable Fuel-Efficient (SAFE) Vehicles Rule.
A rollback of policy put in place during the Obama presidency, SAFE will tighten carbon dioxide emissions standards by 1.5% a year through model year 2026. Under the Obama policy, those emissions would have been further cut, at 5% annually.
More concretely, the estimate is that this ruling will lead to a 40.4 mpg overall industry average required fuel economy in model year 2026. Under the Obama policy, that figure would be a projected 46.7 mpg.
According to U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine L. Chao:
“This rule reflects the Department’s #1 priority—safety—by making newer, safer, cleaner vehicles more accessible for Americans who are, on average, driving 12-year-old cars.”
As can be expected, the finalized rule has been met with criticism and backlash by environmental advocates, especially amid the current economic dive.
“This Trump administration rule proposal to reduce fuel-economy standards would be a harmful step backward, increasing air pollution that causes respiratory illness and forcing drivers to pay more at the pump, all at a time when Americans are struggling with health and economic hardship,” said Aaron Kressig, transportation electrification manager for Western Resource Advocates. “Increased electric vehicle use is also crucial to reducing the emissions that drive climate change and affect the health and welfare of our families as well as generations to come.”
“This rollback represents a self-inflicted wound to our economy right in the heart of an economic crisis,” said Sandra Purohit, director of federal advocacy for Environmental Entrepreneurs. “In America, 740,000 jobs depend on workers making cleaner vehicles and the parts that make vehicles more fuel-efficient, saving families and business from coast-to-coast money at the gas pump.”
In addition, many early reactions accused the rule of being an instance of giving the automakers ‘what they want,’ an idea challenged by the Natural Resources Defense Council and others.
“The EPA reports that automakers are meeting the standards that have been gradually strengthened since 2012. Over the eight years, these standards have cut carbon pollution by more than 455 million metric tons and saved drivers $86 billion at the pump, according to EPA data. Auto sales have boomed as consumers have clamored for cars, SUVs, and light trucks that are cleaner and more fuel efficient. Building better vehicles continues to help us weather market downturns (with better fuel economy) and fight climate change (with lower emissions).”
The "this is just Trump giving the automakers exactly what they want" takes are massively shortchanging the nuance here. I think Trump wants this rollback for political reasons more than the automakers, who prefer consistency & predictability above all else. https://t.co/llKz0h58is
— E.W. Niedermeyer (@Tweetermeyer) March 31, 2020
However, just because a final ruling was issued, does not mean SAFE will be implemented as it stands. The decision is all but guaranteed to be challenged in court.
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We can all make up for the shortcomings with total ban on firewood… the dirtiest fuel of all by far… It is pointless to keep scrubbing our cars clean only to end up breathing firewood smoke! All of them who think firewood is ok to use because it is renewable needs to be re-educated at a reformatory school.. We simply cannot just keep doing our own separate things and ignoring what others are doing.. We are all in all together even including carbon skeptics.. like a pack of growling wolves over a dead prey..
We spent past 50 years cleaning up our smokestacks if not tearing them down first , etc only to end up hearing ourselves blabbering about carbon dioxide… mindlessly! We are still using firewood after all those decades of whipping our industries all clean ! We are still imbeciles!
The environmental “pontificators” can open their “adult” wallets. IF the auto industry does what it says it will do, bring more BEV to the market and retool product lines for all electric vehicles. Buy the BEV product for “your” own use and “drive” the economy towards BEV and away from ICE and fueled driving. YOU don’t need policy, you need a purchasable, useful, product that will last for years of service, make the choice electric and change the World.
The automotive sector would rather “carry on” as they have for over 100 years, bringing new technology to ICE until there is no more to be done. There is the pundit of 48VDC electric systems, that can manage to power accessories like steering, air conditioning, computer controlled valve timing and injection points to make the ICE motor much more efficient than it is today. Ceramic coatings placing the mechanical motor into the more efficient adiabatic engine category could also be a game changer. Making power by using the 48VDC to drive a supercharger, water pump even the power robbing alternator to some extent. It is possible to get the ICE technology to the 100MPG point. It is also possible to get a small 2.0 liter engine, 121 cubic inches to put out 400 horse power when called upon or cut out cylinders under light load to reduce the effective engine size for maximum fuel economy. We’ll see what Chevrolet will “actually” DO with its old Hamtramck facility when it is retooled to all BEV manufacturing. Finally see if VWs word is worth anything after diesel gate. As for the BEV race to superiority, we will see in about 3 years if it was all talk and no action or something in between talk and action. IF Chevrolet pulls this off, they will have reduced their parts count by about 66%, at that point I would think it would be insane to try and go back to ICE manufacturing or continue on with ICE drivetrains. This might create the “cottage” industry of the old dealerships concentrating on taking old vehicles and retrofitting them with the latest/greatest Chevrolet all electric “skateboard” to have an old school body on an all electric running gear. So, would it be proper to say, the automotive industry has come “full circle”. In the early 1900’s many “automotive companies” were old custom horse and buggy coach builders. Then Henry Ford brought along the manufacturing assembly line. Many of the old coach builders could not compete and failed by the wayside. Now with the technology of automation, robotics, one can simplify the automobiles parts count and manufacturing steps. Instead of “refining” the mechanics of the motor, one needs to refine the chemistry of the “fuel tank”. The energy density, weight, cost and longevity of the battery of electric vehicles will allow this technology to take over the transportation sector with all electric instead of fueled motivation.
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