Tesla wants the Biden administration to adopt a tougher position on fuel economy standards for vehicles across the nation — and it’s making other automakers furious.
In July, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced plans to raise the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE). This means that standards for how efficiently gas-guzzling cars use their fuel would be higher, effectively forcing automakers to help reduce fuel usage by making vehicles that use less fuel to go further.
CAFE is measured in miles per gallon (mpg). If an automaker’s fleet dips under the government’s standard rate of efficiency, then the company must pay a significant fine, according to the University of North Carolina.
The NHTSA’s most recent proposal suggested that the fleet-wide average going forward would be 58 miles per gallon by 2032, which would be achieved by raising CAFE requirements 2% for cars and 4% for light trucks every model year from 2027 to 2032.
Tesla thinks that these measures don’t go far enough, Reuters reports. The company wants the NHTSA to up its plans to a 6% efficiency increase annually for cars and 8% for trucks and SUVs (in other words, Tesla wants to triple the rates of fuel efficiency for cars and double the rates for trucks).
Traditional automakers weren’t thrilled with Tesla’s proposal, as the Detroit Three — Ford, General Motors, and Chrysler (in this case, Chrysler’s parent company Stellantis) — produce fleets that are 83% trucks, per Reuters, so these companies would be particularly affected.
The American Automotive Policy Council, which represents the Detroit Three, asked for the truck annual increase rate to drop from 4% to 2%, as even the NHTSA’s original plan (not Tesla’s) “would disproportionately impact the truck fleet,” the companies stated, according to Reuters.
The NHTSA then stated that the policy “is focused on saving Americans money at the gas pump and strengthening American energy independence.” It’s estimated that automakers will have to pay $14 billion in fees during the period of increasing rates, according to Reuters.
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