It could cost U.S. automakers 34 to 40% less than expected to meet 2025 fuel economy standards the Trump administration has vowed to roll back, according to a study released last week by the non-profit International Council on Clean Transportation.
Taken together, the measures recommended in the ICCT report would bring compliance costs down to US$551 per vehicle, far below the $875 previously estimated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. “All of those evolutionary changes, just getting a few percent here and a few percent there, [would] allow more cost-effective implementation of the regulations,” said principal author Nic Lutsey.
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“If accurate, the report could present a challenge to automakers which have lobbied strongly against the implementation of the standards, largely on the grounds of excessive cost,” Reuters reports. The cost reductions for vehicles produced between 2022 and 2025 would result from the companies adopting “technologies like turbo-chargers, advanced transmissions. and use of lighter-weight materials—such as aluminum instead of steel.”
A day after the Reuters story, the California Air Resources Board voted unanimously to adopt tougher emission thresholds for cars and trucks, in what “amounted to a public rejection of Mr. Trump’s plans,” the New York Times reports.
“All of the evidence—call it science, call it economics—shows that if anything, these standards should be even more aggressive,” said CARB member and UC Davis transportation specialist Daniel Sperling.
“What were you thinking when you threw yourselves upon the mercy of the Trump administration to try to solve your problems?” added Board Chair Mary D. Nichols. “Let’s take action today, and let’s move on.”
The Times notes that 12 other states, including New York, Pennsylvania, and Washington, DC, follow California’s vehicle standards, creating “a coalition that covers more than 130 million residents and more than a third of the vehicle market in the United States.”
The CARB decision took advantage of a waiver under the U.S. Clean Air Act that allows California to exceed minimum national standards. The next question, the Times notes, is how the White House will respond to the state action.
“The administration could choose to revoke California’s waiver,” writes reporter Hiroko Tabuchi, “at which point experts expect the state would sue.”