The penalty for not complying with corporate average fuel economy standards (CAFE) will more than double starting next month when the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration conducts its assessments on automakers.
The NHTSA has also confirmed that the increased fines will affect 2015 model year vehicles for which compliance reports have not yet been issued. This effectively means that manufacturers may fail to meet unknown targets without being able to anticipate the financial impact.
Responding to the notice, the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers called the move “draconian” and indicated that it would only make it more challenging for car companies to meet a mandated fleetwide average fuel economy of 54.5 mpg by the 2025 model year.
For its part, the NHTSA maintains that increasing the penalty rate from $5.50 to $14 per vehicle for each 0.1 mpg that the automaker misses the CAFE target will encourage car companies to make changes to comply with greenhouse gas standards rather than simply paying the fines.
Since 2010, the NHTSA has levied an average of $20 million in penalties across the industry.