Trump Administration Re-examining Penalties for Fuel Economy Flubs

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky
trump administration re examining penalties for fuel economy flubs

Automakers’ ability to adhere to the regulatory standards set by the U.S. government are beginning to slip. Manufacturers predicted industry-wide economy inadequacies for 2016 model year vehicles, anticipating things would only worsen for 2017. The Trump administration has framed itself as a friend to automotive companies, with the president himself claiming he would remove regulatory hurdles while in office. Corporate economy guidelines established under President Obama are already under review, but now so are the penalties companies would have to pay for not meeting them.

In a regulatory filing on Friday, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said it would be seeking public comment on how to revise plans, slated to go into effect from the 2019 model year, which would more than double the penalties on auto manufacturers that fall short of meeting the government-set economy targets.

“Seeking comment on the inflationary adjustment will allow stakeholders to provide input and provide NHTSA additional information to inform the agency’s decision regarding how the CAFE civil penalty should be adjusted for inflation,” said the agency in a statement.

The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, a trade group representing the corporate interests of 12 carmakers, stated the agency’s reconsideration was “good news for the auto industry and consumers.” The AAM, along with the Association of Global Automakers, have been petitioning for softer economy targets and less aggressive penalties for almost a year. However, the AAM has made corporate environmental issues its chief concern since 2002 and the AGA has been combating California for over a decade — claiming the state has no authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions beyond what federal agencies had already specified.

Currently, the NHTSA, EPA, and CAFE regulatory targets require gains in fleet-wide fuel efficiency to average 38.3 miles per gallon by 2021. New cars and trucks in the U.S. averaged 32.2 mpg in model year 2015 and automakers are worried they’ll be unable to meet next year’s guidelines, with several stating it would be impossible.

“In light of the fact that CAFE standards are set to rise at a significant rate over the next several years,” the NHTSA said in its filing, “it is likely that many manufacturers will face the possibility of paying larger CAFE penalties over the next several years than at present.”

Since the mid-1970s, automakers have been fined $55 for each mile-per-gallon shortfall, multiplied by the number of vehicles sold for that specific model year. In 2015, congress instructed all federal agencies to update their penalty formulas to account for inflation, and NHTSA suggested increasing the fine to $140 per miles per gallon penalty. Currently, it’s estimated automakers have paid roughly $890 million in civil penalties.

[Source: Automotive News]

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  • RS RS on Jul 10, 2017

    If they want regulations like these to be successful, they will have to pass a consumer hypocrisy and double standards act and fine consumers and politicians that won't buy the vehicles they love to mandate. "I’ll believe it’s a crisis when the people who tell me it’s a crisis act like it’s a crisis."

    • See 3 previous
    • Joeaverage Joeaverage on Jul 16, 2017

      @Lou_BC Tangier Island, VA Miami, FL apparently has flooding problems regularly now? I have visions of the frog in the pot scenario. SOME people are dealing with it now. Others not so much b/c they are far from the affected areas.

  • Mikey Mikey on Jul 10, 2017

    Alberta in January -February theres a wind that blows through, and can raise the temperature 20 degrees in an hour. "Chinook winds" is an indigenous term that translates to "snow eater". While filming the "Revenant" Mr DiCaprio using his best meteorological skills, pronounced that a temperature rise of that magnitude could only be an effect of climate change....I guess the native people reached the same conclusion...about 300 years ago.

    • See 1 previous
    • FOG FOG on Jul 11, 2017

      @Lou_BC No, the lack of sufficient accurate data puts the climate change argument into question. This is further muddied by the split position of, "AN ICE AGE IS GOING TO KILL US ALL!" vs "WE WILL ALL BE FLOODED OUT BY THE MELTING OF THE POLAR ICE CAPS!" The problem isn't DiCaprio being confused it is that scientists didn't correct him for fear that it would show how little they really know.

  • Arthur Dailey Calling Frank Sheeran. Such a shame to see that car, which it appears was well maintained right to the end, being relegated to the crusher. Compared to what you get for $50k today, that Lincoln was not such a bad deal. As mentioned a phenomenal highway cruiser with some of the most comfortable seats every installed in a car.
  • ToolGuy Nice car. Does this company still make sedans?
  • Jimbo1126 I just looked at the Hyundai website and it appears the SE SR trim has gone away. The SE is now the base trim at $45,500.
  • Jimbo1126 Even my mother, certainly no big car fan, commented that the Mark Vi was the ugliest car she'd ever seen.38,391 in 1980 to 38,398 in 1981 is an increase of 7. :)
  • Kwik_Shift Important consideration when choosing your next vehicle. Its not only your own death, or of your passengers, but the possible lifetime of crippling injuries.