NHTSA Requiring New Vehicles To Average 40 MPG by 2026, Up From 24 MPG

by Shelby Scott
(Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration plans to revamp its fuel economy requirements for new vehicles by 2026. The current minimum requirements state that new vehicles must achieve just over 24 miles per gallon. However, new rules were enacted Friday. Now, NHTSA will require improvements upon average MPGs for new vehicles for multiple reasons, the new standard to achieve at least 40 miles per gallon. 

At a Glance:

  • Current fuel economy requirements for new vehicles state that average MPGs must achieve 24 miles.
  • NHTSA, and U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg plan to up new vehicle requirements to 40 average MPGs by 2026.
  • The new fuel economy requirements serve multiple goals.

New Vehicles to Have New Fuel Economy Standards

Current requirements, ABC News reports, took hold during the Trump administration. These state new vehicles must achieve a minimum average of just over 24 miles to the gallon.

However, the current administration has demonstrated a greater concern for climate change. This, in part, is what inspired the new fuel economy rules set forth on Friday. According to the outlet, new vehicles sold after 2026 must achieve 40 miles to the gallon. The Biden administration’s new requirements differ drastically from that of the previous administration.

As automakers begin to enact these new rules, drivers can expect to see an 8% increase in gas mileage for cars with model years 2024 and 2025. Those same requirements will see a 10% increase in fuel economy efficiency for vehicles dated 2026 and forward.

Altogether, government officials state that the latest requirements are the maximum the auto industry can achieve within the given time period.

How New Fuel Efficient Vehicles Economically Aid the U.S.

There is a multitude of reasons for the NHTSA to revamp its current fuel economy requirements.

Better Environmental Care:

First off, the outlet reports that the Trump administration’s fuel economy rollbacks allowed the overall requirements to rise 1.5% annually. Various environmental groups spoke out about the rollbacks, stating the 24-mpg average did little to reduce planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions.

Now though, NHTSA’s new rules help further decrease the total greenhouse gas emissions coming out of the U.S. However, certain environmentalists believe it’s still not enough.

Dan Becker, director of the Safe Climate Transport Center at the Center for Biological Diversity, spoke out on the new guidelines.

“Climate change has gotten much worse, but these rules only require automakers to reduce gas-guzzling slightly more than they agreed to cut nine years ago.”

Becker added that the NHTSA would have to up the new requirements by two MPGs to achieve better fuel efficiency and greater environmental protection efforts.

Betterment of National Security:

While a greater fuel economy does (eventually) signify a lesser impact on the natural environment, there are also, more politically motivated reasons for supporting the new requirements.

As per the outlet, a greater fuel economy will help decrease our dependence on foreign sources of oil. In addition, decreased demand for gas, currently at record highs, means there’s a good chance that not only will fuel prices drop, but we could also see inflation loosen its grip on the nation. As we know, energy, combined with housing rates, accounts for some of the most aggravating contributors to current inflation rates.