In order to achieve government fuel economy standards, the U.S. Energy Department (DOE) proposed lowering the mileage ratings for electric vehicles (EVs), a move that would compel automakers to offer additional low-emission vehicles or upgrade current ones.
For use in the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) program, DOE intends to dramatically change how it determines the petroleum-equivalent fuel economy rating for electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles.
More than 20 years have passed since the last change to the current system.
“Encouraging adoption of EVs can reduce petroleum consumption but giving too much credit for that adoption can lead to increased net petroleum use because it enables lower fuel economy among conventional vehicles, which represent by far the majority of vehicles sold,” DOE said in its proposed regulation.
Miles Per Gallon Equivalent (MPGe) ratings are calculated using data on driving habits, national electricity production and distribution efficiency, and petroleum use.
Environmental organizations point out that the fuel efficiency ratings for EVs used to determine CAFE compliance are far greater than those shown on the government’s consumer website.
Lowering the values might have wide-ranging effects and deter EV adoption, according to the Alliance for Automotive Innovation, which speaks for major automakers.
On Monday, the group claimed it was unclear how the suggested DOE calculation would be included in next CAFE requirements.
Under the DOE proposal, a Volkswagen ID.4 EV, which currently gets 380.6 MPGe under CAFE, would get 107.4 MPGe, while a Ford F-150 EV would see its MPGe decline from 237.1 to 67.1 and a Chrysler Pacifica plug-in hybrid would see its MPGe drop from 88.2 to 59.5.
A relatively small number of EVs will mathematically guarantee compliance without appreciable increases in the real-world average fuel economy of automakers’ overall fleets, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council and Sierra Club, who petitioned for the change in 2021.