EPA Says Fuel Economy at Record High, CO2 at Record Low

The average fuel economy for new cars and light duty trucks has increased while the average CO2 emissions continue to decrease for the seventh consecutive year, according to the just issued U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s annual report, “Light-Duty Automotive Technology, Carbon Dioxide Emissions, and Fuel Economy Trends: 1975 Through 2011.”

For 2010, the last year which EPA has final data from automakers, the average CO2 emissions from new vehicles were 394 grams per mile and the average fuel economy rating was 22.6 miles per gallon. EPA also projects an improvement in 2011, based on pre-model year sales estimates provided by automakers, to 391 grams of CO2 per mile and 22.8 mpg.

One giant caveat here: The EPA window sticker customers see is not the same as the EPA CAFE rating used by automakers. As a general rule window sticker ratings are 25% lower than the numbers used for CAFE compliance. Moreover, even the sticker ratings have been adjusted downward in recent years after drivers complained they were too optimistic.

“Today’s report shows that we are making significant strides toward saving families money at the pump, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and cleaning up the air we breathe,” said Gina McCarthy, Assistant Administrator for EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation.

The U.S. Department of Transportation and EPA are in the process of implementing the first phase of new fuel economy standards and will raise fuel efficiency ratings to 35.5 mpg by 2016, with further increase to a more than 50 mpg rating by 2025 if the next round of standards is implemented.

The report also notes the growth of more efficient technologies, such as six-speed transmissions, advanced fuel injection, and turbochargers that are making significant inroads into the mainstream market. EPA expects these and other new technologies to become even more popular in the next few years as standards increase.

About Ken Zino

Ken Zino is an auto industry veteran with global experience in print, broadcast and electronic media. He has auto testing, marketing, public relations and communications expertise garnered while working in Asia, Europe and the U.S.
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