The EPA says electric and hybrid vehicles have had a noticeable impact on fuel consumption in the United States

The EPA says electric and hybrid vehicles have had a noticeable impact on fuel consumption in the United States

The red needle of the fuel gauge indicates that the fuel tank is full on a black background.  Horizontal configuration with copy space.

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I like the idea of ​​approaching the end of the year with some good news for a change, and I think the US EPA might as well. The Environmental Protection Agency on Wednesday published its Automotive Trends Report, which now includes data on 2022 model year vehicles.

And the data is good: carbon emissions are at record lows, fuel economy is at a record high, and the biggest year-over-year improvement in nearly a decade.

For 2022, the EPA says the real-world average carbon dioxide2 Emissions for all new vehicles fell by 10 g/mile to 337 g/mile, the lowest average ever measured. Likewise, real-world fuel economy increased by 0.6 miles per gallon in 2022, to 26 miles per gallon – this is also a record and the largest year-on-year improvement for both CO2.2 and mpg for nine years.

And it’s not a one-time thing. Despite occasional layoffs, EPA data show that since 2004, U.S. passenger fleet emissions have fallen by 27 percent, or 123 grams per mile. Meanwhile, average fuel economy increased by 35 percent, or 6.7 mpg. Better yet, the EPA says its preliminary data shows greater reductions in carbon emissions and greater increases in fuel efficiency through fiscal year 2023.

The report divides light passenger vehicles into five groups: sedan/wagon, SUV (Also known as crossover), SUV, pickup truck, and minivan/van. (The difference between an SUV and a four-wheel drive truck is a regulatory definition that includes weight limits and things like “Does it have four-wheel drive?”.)

More good news here: In 2022, four of the five categories are now the most efficient since the EPA started monitoring this sort of thing. Sedans and wagons saw their emissions reduced by 11 g/mile for 2022. SUVs reduced their emissions by 27 g/mile for the same model year. Minivans posted a drop of 18 g/mile, and truck SUVs improved by 4 g/mile.

But bad news for minibuses. Not only are there few left for sale – representing just 3 percent of new vehicles produced for 2022 – the segment has also seen its average emissions increase by 17 grams per mile.

But I’m also not happy that 63 percent of all new vehicles built in 2022 were SUVs, pickup trucks, and minivans/vans, which are subject to less stringent corporate average fuel economy standards, rather than The most stringent light duty standards. Systems. The EPA says this is the highest percentage of trucks since 1975, and it will get worse for the 2023 model year.

All you readers who were quick to post the “It’s Not Just Bikes” video have taken notice by now. Because despite the best real-world fuel efficiency ever, 2022 model year cars are bigger and heavier than ever.

Some of the increase in size and weight is due to improved passive and active safety systems – crumple zones, side-impact protection, better rollover protection, and in some cases nearly a dozen airbags throughout the cabin. But some of the growth in size, and much of the increase in power, is due to what the EPA calls “market trends” — what American customers want from their new cars, like it or not. The bad news is that the EPA doesn’t see these trends changing for 2023.

Who did the best and who did the worst?

The EPA report also calculates trends for each OEM over the past few years, so we can see who’s getting better and who’s getting worse.

I’m often interested in the engineering and quality of new Korean vehicles, and there’s another data point in their favor: They lead the way in average fleet efficiency (29.1 mpg) and carbon emissions (302 g/mi), even though they’re clear brands. Like Tesla and Rivian, which don’t sell any combustion engines, their fleet emissions are 0 g/mile.

Kia also showed significant gains from 2017 to 2022, coming in third behind Honda, which actually became dirtier and less efficient over the same time frame.

Toyota showed the biggest improvement over time, reducing carbon emissions by 32 g/mile and increasing fuel efficiency from 25.3 mpg to 27.8 mpg. Meanwhile Mazda went in the other direction. It now sells many more large SUVs than it did before, rising from 29 mpg in 2017 to 27 mpg in 2022.

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