- new vehicles sold in the u.s. must average 49 mpg fleet-wide by 2026, according to new federal fuel-economy standards announced today.
- the department of transportation said the new requirements are intended to improve fuel efficiency, cut down on fuel costs, and reduce emissions.
- people who buy new in 2029 will save about $1400 total on fuel costs over the vehicle's lifetime, but the average new-vehicle price will also rise by about $1100.
every automaker will now need its fleet of light-duty vehicles sold in the u.s. to average 49 mpg by 2026. this new federal requirement is part of changes made to corporate average fuel economy (cafe) standards, which were announced today by the national highway traffic safety administration (nhtsa). (it's important to note that these mpg numbers are unadjusted figures that don't represent what individual cars can be expected to achieve. you can anticipate that 49 mpg unadjusted will yield a figure somewhere in the mid-30s on an average window sticker. for a thorough explanation of cafe regulations and what they mean to actual fuel economy in your vehicle, see our earlier story on the subject.)
with better mpg comes less money spent on gas—about $1387 less over the lifetime of a vehicle bought new in the 2029 model year. however, the agency also acknowledged that requiring automakers to make vehicles more fuel-efficient will mean the cost of new vehicles will go up—by about $1087 on average, nhtsa said.
the new cafe standards take effect in 2024 and will require automakers to increase fuel efficiency by 8 percent annually for the 2024 and 2025 model years. by 2026, that figure will rise to 10 percent. compared with the 2021 model year, the new standards are also expected to improve the industry's fleet-wide average by about 10 miles per gallon for 2026 models. right now, as transportation secretary pete buttigieg said in remarks today, the average fuel economy of the u.s. 2021 vehicle fleet is 36 mpg, and the new standard will increase that by 33 percent by 2026.
nhtsa's press release claims that updating the requirements for 2024 through 2026 models will decrease fuel consumption by over 200 billion gallons through 2050 versus if the old standards stayed in place, as well as cut greenhouse-gas emissions and dependence on foreign oil.