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By Ethan Wolff-Mann
July 18, 2016
Scott Olson—Getty Images

Next month the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration will be hiking the fine it levies against automakers that can’t match the MPG targets they give themselves — and automakers are not happy.

It’s expensive for an automaker to meet the compliance standards of its fuel economy, but according to Automotive News, it could be way more expensive to fall short and will totally throw a wrench into their strategies.

Moreover, the penalties will apply for the 2015 model years, so automakers won’t have a chance to change their answers—the pencils have been put down and it is unclear how much errors will have cost them so far.

Since 2010, automakers have already paid a total of $20 million per year in fines for missing fuel economy targets. The biggest offender, Jaguar Land Rover, paid $46.2 million in such fines between 2010 and 2014. Under the new rules, car companies must pay $14 for each 0.1 mpg that each vehicle sold in a given model year misses its fuel economy target by.

Read More: These Are the Best Cars Under $25,000

Automakers have called the changes “draconian,” the publication reports, and it will be harder to hit Obama’s 2025 target of 54.5 mpg. They were further incensed by the suddenness of the change. Likely to be hit the hardest are Jaguar Land Rover, Daimler, Volvo, Porsche, and Fiat, which have led the tallies of fines between 2010 and 2014.

Arguing against the “draconian” label, the NHTSA’s hike was to correspond to inflation. “This is a badly needed reform,” Roland Hwang, transportation director at the Natural Resources Defense Council, told Automotive News, adding that the old penalty made it cheaper to take the fine rather than improve its practice.

Advertiser Disclosure

The purpose of this disclosure is to explain how we make money without charging you for our content.

Our mission is to help people at any stage of life make smart financial decisions through research, reporting, reviews, recommendations, and tools.

Earning your trust is essential to our success, and we believe transparency is critical to creating that trust. To that end, you should know that many or all of the companies featured here are partners who advertise with us.

Our content is free because our partners pay us a referral fee if you click on links or call any of the phone numbers on our site. If you choose to interact with the content on our site, we will likely receive compensation. If you don't, we will not be compensated. Ultimately the choice is yours.

Opinions are our own and our editors and staff writers are instructed to maintain editorial integrity, but compensation along with in-depth research will determine where, how, and in what order they appear on the page.

To find out more about our editorial process and how we make money, click here.

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