Final Rule – The Safer Affordable Fuel-Efficient (SAFE) Vehicles Rule for Model Years 2021-2026

On March 30th, 2020, Administrators of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) signed the Safer Affordable Fuel-Efficient (SAFE) Vehicles Rule for Model Years 2021-2026, finalizing updated Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) and greenhouse gas emissions standards for passenger cars and light trucks and establish new standards, covering model years 2021 through 2026. A pre-publication version of the signed rule is available at:

https://www.epa.gov/regulations-emissions-vehicles-and-engines/safer-affordable-fuel-efficient-safe-vehicles-final-rule

The August 2018 SAFE Vehicles Rule Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) proposed to freeze greenhouse gas standards for vehicles at 2020 levels through model year 2026, as well as proposing to withdraw the January 9, 2013 waiver of Clean Air Act (CAA) preemption for California’s Advanced Clean Car (ACC) program, Zero Emissions Vehicle (ZEV) mandate, and Greenhouse Gas (GHG) standards that are applicable to model years 2021 through 2025.

In September 2019, NHTSA and EPA finalized The SAFE Vehicles Rule Part One: One National Program to withdraw the January 2013 CAA preemption waiver granted to the State of California for its GHG and ZEV programs. https://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/FR-2019-09-27/pdf/2019-20672.pdf

As explained in the March 30, 2020 SAFE Final Rule Executive Summary: “The CAFE and CO2 emissions standards established by these final rules will increase in stringency at 1.5 percent per year from MY 2020 levels over MYs 2021-2026. The “1.5 percent” regulatory alternative is new for the final rule and was not expressly analyzed in the NPRM, but it is a logical outgrowth of the NPRM analysis, being well within the range of alternatives then considered and consistent with discussions by both the agencies and commenters that there are benefits to having standards that increase at the same rate for all fleets.”

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