GM, Stellantis Hit With “Record-Setting” $363 Million In Penalties for Missing U.S. Fuel Economy Requirements

Stellantis will have to pay $235.5 million, while GM's stuck with a $128.2 million bill

(Image: General Motors)

FCA parent company Stellantis and General Motors paid hundreds of millions in civil penalties.

According to a new Reuters report, two of the Big Three automakers faced a combined $363 million in fines after failing to meet new U.S. fuel economy standards for several model years. The penalties, set by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration as part of the government’s Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards, are the first the agency has collected in three years from any automaker.

This is also the first time GM, for its part, paid a fine in the CAFE program’s 40-year history. Their most recent $128.2 million fines cover the 2016 and 2017 model years. The company said it would “use a combination of credits from prior model years, expected credits from future model years, credits obtained from other manufacturers, and payment of civil penalties to comply with increasingly stringent CAFE regulations.”

Stellantis, formerly Fiat Chrysler Automobiles before its 2021 merger, paid a total of $156.6 million in earlier penalties for the 2016 and 2017 model years. The current penalties, per Reuters, covers the 2018 and 2019 model years. In response, the company said the hundreds of millions it paid “reflects past performance recorded before the formation of Stellantis, and is not indicative of the company’s direction.”

In April 2022, the NHTSA noted 11 instances between 2018 and 2021 where automakers would have to remit “substantial” civil penalty payments, though it did not specifically name the offending automakers. According to records Reuters obtained, GM and Stellantis paid its most recent fines between December 2022 and May 2023.

(Image: Stellantis | FCA US LLC Headquarters)

Stellantis has the lowest real-world fuel economy among major automakers

In December, the Environmental Protection Agency said the fleetwide real-world fuel economy average across all automakers was 25.4 miles per gallon. EV automaker Tesla, as you’d likely expect, outpaced all automakers with the equivalent average economy of 123.9 mpg.

Stellantis, however, posted the lowest fuel economy among larger automakers, at 21.3 mpg. General Motors did not fare much better at 21.6 mpg, while Ford managed an average of 22.9 mpg. The best automakers with internal combustion models were Subaru (28.8 mpg), Kia (28.7 mpg) and Nissan (28.6 mpg).

The latest penalties news comes as the EPA proposes more drastic emissons costs and fuel economy standards moving forward. If enacted, those standards, starting in 2027, may bring about a 56% reduction in average fleet emissions through 2032. One major component of the CAFE system allows automakers who surpass fuel economy standards (like Tesla) to sell credits to automakers that do not meet the current rules. The NHTSA hiked penalties for the 2022 model year and forward to $15 for every 0.1 mpg each new vehicle falls short of fuel economy requirements from $5.50 prior to 2019.