DOE Updates Mileage Regulations to Encourage EV Adoption

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DOE Updates Mileage Regulations to Encourage EV Adoption

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has updated its regulations to more accurately calculate electric vehicle (EV) mileage, a move that aligns with the actual efficiency of EVs in everyday use. This adjustment is anticipated to aid the automotive industry’s shift towards electrification by making it easier for manufacturers to increase EV sales.

Originally, the proposal demanded a 72% reduction in the gas-equivalent mileage rating for EVs by 2027, setting the petroleum equivalency factor (PEF) at 23.2 kilowatt-hours per gallon by 2030—a target deemed stringent by car manufacturers. However, the revised regulations offer a more gradual approach, starting with a PEF of 82 kWh/gallon for the years 2024 through 2026, eventually decreasing to 29 kWh/gallon by 2030. This change not only aids carmakers in transitioning more smoothly to electric models but also permits the production of gasoline vehicles until 2030 while still complying with Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards, according to Reuters.

Environmental organizations have criticized the prior regulations for allowing manufacturers to balance out gasoline consumption by producing a minimal number of electric vehicles. The new rule aims to address these concerns by providing a more balanced and realistic framework for the transition to electric vehicles.

Pete Huffman, a senior attorney at the Natural Resources Defense Council, declared an end to what he referred to as the automakers’ “free ride.” He criticized the old method for calculating the fuel economy of electric vehicles (EVs), which used a nearly sevenfold multiplier, resulting in significantly inflated EV fuel economy figures. The Department of Energy (DOE)’s new rule phases out this multiplier and updates the calculation with more recent data, aiming for a more accurate representation of EV efficiency.

Automakers were initially surprised by a proposal that, according to an industry group, could have led to $10.5 billion in penalties for failing to meet the suggested fuel economy standards. However, the finalized rule reduces the gas-equivalent fuel economy rating for EVs by 65% through 2030, slightly less severe than the originally proposed 72%.

This adjustment follows a petition from the Sierra Club and the Natural Resources Defense Council to the DOE, urging an update to the outdated methodology for calculating EV fuel economy that had been in place for two decades.

The DOE’s approach to determining EV fuel economy involves using urban and highway energy consumption data from Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) test cycles, then translating this combined energy consumption into miles per gallon of gasoline equivalent (MPGe). The revised rules consider energy consumption, grid efficiency, and future energy forecasts in their calculations.

By correcting the previously overstated MPGe figures, the DOE addresses concerns that the old calculation method allowed car manufacturers to produce and sell more gasoline-powered vehicles. The Sierra Club also highlighted that these new mileage requirements are independent of the EPA’s upcoming final emissions standards.

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