Fuel-Efficiency Standards Are Set to Get Tougher. The Question Is by How Much.

WASHINGTON—The Biden administration is expected to announce stricter fuel-efficiency standards for new cars and light trucks as early as this week, fulfilling a pledge to reset tailpipe-emission limits eased by former President Donald Trump.

The new standards are expected to raise the miles-per-gallon performance and lower the amount of tailpipe emissions that auto makers are required to meet as a fleetwide average for the next four years.

Under rules put in place under the Obama administration, auto makers were required to achieve average fuel efficiency of 54.5 mpg by 2025—or an estimated 36 mpg in so-called real-world driving that accounts for stop-and-go traffic. Mr. Trump eased that to 40 mpg, or about 29 mpg on a real-world basis.

President Biden has pushed for stronger regulations on auto emissions as part of his campaign to cut greenhouse-gas emissions, which contribute to climate change. Earlier this year, he moved to restore California’s ability to set its own standards that exceeded those set by the federal government, a power that was eliminated by Trump in November 2019.

The new standards for fuel-efficiency standards and tailpipe emissions will be released by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Transportation Department and are expected to apply to vehicles through the 2026 model year. Officials at both agencies declined to discuss their pending proposals.

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