Press release

The Trump Administration’s vehicle efficiency proposal is not supported by underlying data and runs counter to global trends

August 2, 2018 (Washington DC)—The long-expected proposal released today by the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency on light-duty fuel-efficiency standards for 2021–2026 runs counter to the ICCT’s extensive technology and cost assessment, which found that the standards are technologically feasible at far lower cost than anticipated in 2012.

Rolling back the vehicle efficiency standards would put the United States out of step with the rest of the global major auto markets that are seeing continued innovation. From the point of view of technology trends, the proposal is inconsistent with both agencies’ findings in their extensive technology assessment published in the summer of 2016, and with the EPA’s final rulemaking published in January 2017. The Trump Administration’s proposed standards will work to the immediate detriment of American consumers, since the fuel savings flowing from the existing standards are several times larger than the cost to comply. The proposed rollback will also cause the loss of over a quarter-million jobs by 2035.

A significant body of ICCT research built up over several years, most of it done in close collaboration with U.S. and international automotive suppliers, has validated the rigorous and meticulous analyses previously done by EPA and California Air Resources Board staff on which the vehicle efficiency standards that the administration now seeks to dismantle were founded. Indeed, our primary critique of the agencies’ technical work to this point has been that their conclusions tended to prove too conservative—that the pace of automotive technological innovation and more realistic cost-benefit assessments would justify even more ambitious goals, better aligned with the urgent need to reduce oil consumption and carbon emissions. To see how starkly conservative the new proposal is: its estimates that the 2025 standards will cost $1,800–$2,300 per vehicle are 3-4 times the ICCT’s own estimate of $550, based on existing and emerging technologies. They are also about twice the costs estimated by EPA ($894) and NHTSA ($1,245) in their 2016 Technical Assessment Report.

We remain hopeful that some more constructive outcome may still emerge from the public comment period on this proposal, and toward that end we will continue to press the case for practical, fact-based, future-oriented policies that advance cleaner and more efficient transportation in the United States.


Drew Kodjak, Executive Director,
John German, Senior Fellow,
Nic Lutsey, U.S. Program Director,
Anup Bandivadekar, Passenger Vehicles Program Director,