Cost estimates for meeting MPG and pollution standards are overstated by as much as 40%, according to a study by the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT). Based on current technology and cost trends, the study found that even more stringent standards through 2030 are feasible.    

This study comes one week after the Trump administration announced the reconsideration of the EPA’s final determination, reopening standards for model years 2022-2025 originally agreed upon by automakers, federal government, and California.

On March 24, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) will hold a meeting on its midterm review of the 2025 emission standards. This will impact the car market of California and the 12 states that have California’s clean car rules, which together represent over a third of the U.S. new car market and almost 6 million annual car sales.

“Our research casts fresh doubt on automakers’ claims that the standards are too difficult and costly to meet,” said Nic Lutsey, ICCT program director and the lead author of the paper. “And we find that technology and cost trends make setting even more stringent targets out to 2030 not only feasible but desirable, because they would produce fuel cost savings to consumers two or even three times the technology costs per vehicle.”

Summaries of the findings include that compliance costs for 2025 standards will be 34%–40% lower than projected by the EPA; emerging combustion vehicle efficiency will result in cost-effective 8%–10% mileage improvements for vehicles by 2025, compared to the EPA’s analysis; federal standards that get progressively more stringent, at 4%–6% lower fuel use per mile annually from 2025 to 2030, can be achieved cost-effectively.

Such 2030 standards could be achieved mostly with advanced combustion technology, while also initiating the wider launch of plug-in electric vehicles to 13%–23% of the new vehicle fleet. This could shift the new vehicle fleet from 26 miles per gallon in 2016 up to 42–46 miles per gallon by 2030.