Regulators often don't show much confidence in the companies they monitor, but EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy is convinced carmakers are trying about as hard as they can to improve fuel economy.
At the Detroit auto show, McCarthy said that if the 2025 mpg standards must be scaled back during a midterm review in 2017 it will not be due to lack of effort.
"If we don't quite get there ... it is not going to be the fault of those companies," said McCarthy, who helped craft the standards as the EPA's top air pollution official and was confirmed as administrator last year. "They are trying hard. They are working. They are investing."
McCarthy said car executives she met with last week wanted to know whether the EPA still was committed to doing the midterm review, which would allow regulators to scale back the 54.5-mpg target if automakers are managing less fuel savings than expected.
"And, of course, we are," she said.