EPA-OTAQ Director Chris Grundler was part of the team that developed the nation’s first greenhouse-gas emissions standards for both light- and heavy-duty vehicles. He has a bachelor of science degree in civil and environmental engineering from the University of Michigan.

EPA-OTAQ chief on GHG mandate: ‘Things look really good’ (video)

The most encouraging aspect of the U.S. federal government’s mandates on fuel economy and greenhouse-gas (GHG) emissions is that “customers are buying more fuel efficiency than the standards require at this point,” Chris Grundler, Director of the U.S. EPA’s Office of Transportation and Air Quality (OTAQ), said in an interview with Automotive Engineering before participating on a panel at the SAE 2014 World Congress in Detroit.

Although the EPA is “very confident that the policies and the standards are lining up with the marketplace demands,” he acknowledged that the hardest part of meeting the GHG mandate—and the complementary CAFE mandate issued by NHTSA (U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration)—is yet to come.

Grundler said the EPA expects automakers to meet the increasingly stringent dual regulations (which extend to MY2025) mostly through improvements to the internal-combustion engine and other vehicle systems, not through electrification: “There’s a whole set of technologies that are coming to market that are providing these benefits, both to the planet and to us as drivers.” By 2025, the EPA predicts that less than 10% of the fleet will consist of electrified vehicles.

So far, “the industry is beating the standards,” said Grundler. In a recent analysis, it was determined that of the MY2014 offerings, 34% already meet 2016 targets.

EPA and NHTSA are obligated to conduct a midterm review of the dual regulations in 2017 to determine whether automakers can meet the more stringent standards from MY2018 to MY2025 without undue hardship.

An Automotive Engineering video interview with Grundler can be viewed at http://video.sae.org/11791/.

Grundler's SAE 2014 World Congress panel presentation (along with those of other panelists) can be viewed, with Powerpoint slides, at http://www.webcastregister2014.com/sae/2014/saeavl/ (click on “Regulatory Driven Impacts on Powertrain”).

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