The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have released their proposed vehicle fuel economy rule called the Safer Affordable Fuel-Efficient (SAFE) Vehicles Rule for Model Years 2021--2026 Passenger Cars and Light Trucks.
It's the first step in setting fuel economy standards for 2021-2026 vehicles, standards much lower than those created by the Obama administration.
According to the EPA, its April 2018 evaluation determined fuel economy standards should be revised for model year 2022--2025 vehicles because current standards are allegedly based on outdated information.
The EPA claims it had no choice but to evaluate current standards because the Obama administration "short-circuited" the process and released its final emissions determination just days before leaving office.
Now NHTSA and the EPA say they have had time to study the pros and cons of following current fuel economy standards and the available options included in the proposed rule.
EPA Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler said the most recent information and data were used to create a solution that will apply to all states, creating more "realistic standards" that "can save lives while continuing to improve the environment."
Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao also said the new rule creates more "realistic standards" that will bring "newer, safer, cleaner and more fuel-efficient vehicles" to the roads.
NHTSA said a 2018 study shows the newest vehicles are also the safest compared to older models, with crashes in new models resulting in fewer injuries and deaths.
According to the Trump administration, "correcting" current fuel economy standards will remove barriers that currently block consumers from buying new safer cars.
NHTSA and the EPA claim current fuel standards are a contributing factor to the increasing cost of new cars that now average $35,000, and backers of the new plan claim keeping current standards will add more than $2,300 to the price of a new car.
EPA Assistant Administrator Bill Wherum said the Department of Transportation and the EPA estimate the proposed rule could lead to 12,000 fewer fatalities over the lifetime of vehicles built through 2029.