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Playing with Percentages: 30+ mpg Highway US Models for 2007

18 October 2006

Epa07fuelecon_1
Total 2007 models, models with >30 mpg highway, and percentage of total for the top six automakers. Click to enlarge.

General Motors used the release of the 2007 Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Fuel Economy Guide to point out that it “leads the industry with more vehicles that achieve 30 mpg, on the highway, than any other manufacturer.

While that is true from the frame of reference of an absolute number of models offered, GM also sells more models than any other automaker—the 2007 Fuel Economy Guide lists 298 separate GM models (including different powertrain options for a given model). Fifty-two of those obtain 30 mpg or better on the highway, or 17.45% of total models offered.

(There are also idiosyncrasies in the guide listings due to model designation or timing. The only 2007 diesel model listed, for example, is the VW Touareg, even though the Mercedes-Benz E320 BLUETEC goes on sale this week. There are also placeholders for the Saturn Aura Hybrid and the Nissan Altima Hybrid in the guide—without fuel economy figures—even though they are not yet on the market.)

However, more than 18% of all models sold in the US (as listed in the EPA Fuel Economy Guide) deliver 30 mpg or better on the highway (193 models out of 1,058). And on the basis of 30+ mpg highway models as a percentage of all models sold, while GM is not the lowest of the top six automakers (that falls to the Chrysler Group), neither is it the leader.

The percentage leadership spot falls to Honda, with 45.5% of its 2007 models offered delivering 30 miles per gallon or better on the highway.

On a percentage basis, GM is third behind Honda and Toyota, but ahead of Ford, Chrysler and Nissan.

2007 MY Models and Models Offering 30+ MPG Highway*
AutomakerTotal 2007 models2007 Models 30+ mpg Highway% 2007 Models 30+ mpg Highway
* As listed in the 2007 EPA Fuel Economy Guide
GM 298 52 17.5%
Ford 141 18 12.8%
Chrysler Group 111 5 4.5%
Toyota 67 19 27.9%
Honda 33 15 45.5%
Nissan 37 7 14%

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Percentages are irrelevant from a consumer's perspective. When I go buy a car, I don't care about the fleet of cars I don't buy. I care about the single car I do buy.

If my criteria is "30+mpg highway", then GM should be the first place I look -- they have the most choices. Choices are good.


I'm not arguing that their piece is complete, accurate, or completely accurate. But, to use percentage as a comparison is pretty silly from a consumer perspective, because consumers buy a single car and prefer choices.

Stomv,

I'd have to say the opposite would be true for me. As an example, instead of going to a giant superfood store to buy my local & organic food, I go to a smaller coop. Even though the huge store has more food, their percentange of the type of food I want is much less. On the other hand, going to the coop I know that a high percentage of the food there is what I'm after.

So, going to a GM lot they may have loads of cars, but most of them I don't want to have anything was so ever to do with. On the other hand, half the cars at a Honda lot I'm be intersted in.

Just a different way to look at the same thing.

What happened to the small cars that can pull obsecene mileage in the early eighties? It's been almost thirty years and we're still dancing around 50mpg. I want my ~100mpg@55mph. Where's my 3L Lupo?

A better metric would be the % of cars sold in some time period, like the 1st 6 months of 06 or whatever.
But at least GM are mentioning MPG which is a good thing.
It will take some time to turn around a huge oil tanker like GM, but once it starts moving, it will have considerable momentum.
If we assume their engineers are as smart as the ones in Honda and Toyota, once they get the right direction from marketing, they will achieve great things. Lets hope they can do it quickly enough.

Stormv -

I agree with you, comparisons of the relative fuel economy of vehicle *models* is fairly meaningless. A more meaningful comparison would rank manufacturers by fleet average fuel economy of vehicles actually *sold*, based on official EPA estimates for mineral gasoline and diesel.

The impact of biofuels - in particular, that of E85 - should be considered only to the extent that a carmaker can provide a valid estimate (e.g. via a statistically significant samples) of the number of *actual* miles driven on these alternatives by customers driving around in vehicles of the model year in question.

GM is essentially saying it has vehicles with adequate fuel economy but that its customers simply prefer the gas guzzlers. That may be true of competitors' product lines also. However, it is disingenous to claim that marketing has nothing to do with generating that demand. Of course carmakers are going to advertise their high-margin products more heavily. Their CEOs are running businesses, not charities.

If society wants to change purchasing patterns to head off mitigation costs down the road, it must incent consumers to choose vehicles featuring higher fuel economy. The hybrid tax credits are one option but focussed on a particular technology rather than the result. They are also unsustainable at the scale needed to deliver CO2 reductions on the scale required. What is needed is a tax strategy that funds carrots with sticks elsewhere. Predictably rising fuel taxes, disbursed as income tax credits, would achieve this over the course of a decade.

This is very positive news, concerning GM. This says that their company, as a whole, is contributing more to cutting our dependence on oil. Toyota/Honda lovers may argue the fact that it isnt fair because Toyota/Honda dont sell an equal amount of vehicles. But that is exactly the point! Bottom line according to this report, is GM is "doing" more in the consumers hands. Its OK to talk high numbers, and greater efficiencies, but if you cant put them in consumers hands, then its a mute point.

That being said, everyone should vote with their pocketbooks for their choice of efficient vehicle, foreign or domestic, and make the automakers drop the inefficient guzzler models they try to sell.

I really think Chrysler is going to be in trouble soon. They have jumped hard on the "hemi", "guzzler", "consume while burning rubber" mindset. Consumer trends will turn away from that quickly and leave Chrysler in the dust if they do not do something about it quickly. I fear they will drag Mercedes down with them. But thats a different story.......................

Another case of corporations using weasel words to make themselves look better than they are. Yes, GM makes the most models that get over 30mpg highway. They also make the most models that get less than 30mpg highway. And they make absolutely no models that get over 40mpg anywhere.

And that's what I'm looking for when I buy a car: The best gas mileage possible. And that's why I'm not looking at any GM vehicle that's available in the US.

And don't forget that the fuel economy document has some curious gaps--like the missing Scion xA and xB, both members of the "over 30MPG club".

The xA was also missing from last year's doc., but the xB was there.

Uh-oh...the words "General Motors" and "fuel economy" in the same article...and already the insults go flying.

Give GM some credit. I mean, they've got a V6 engine in their Chevy Impala that gets 30 mpg highway.

What gm does have that is not the norm is a fair number of LARGE cars that get over 30 mpg highway.

And when we are looking at a car the first thing that counts is... does it fit me and is it confy. Not gona commute to work in a painful contraption just to save a little fuel.

I find quoting the HWY MPG is misleading. My Dodge Caravan gets 25mpg on the HWY but the average is more like 12mpg.

I would love to know the rated MPG at different speeds for each individual car.

Just announce the intention to add 10c / gallon of all types of fuel per year for 10 years.
The people with economical cars can gloat, and the rest have enough time to buy more suitable cars before the tax really kicks in.
Companies have enough time to design and market economical cars.
We have considerable fuel taxes in Europe (especially the UK) and society is still intact.
You might exempt biofuels from this, in proportion to the carbon offset, but this is debatable. The outcome is to get people into more economical cars (of whatever technology - we do not know or care) to protect the enviromment and the security of the oil consuming nations.
If you don't reduce demand with local taxes, the price goes up due to demand and you end up paying the money to the oil producers (which, I assume, we do not want to do).

This goes to prove the Mark Twian Theory of Statistics

1). There are lies.
2). There are damn lies.
3). Then there are statistics.
4). Finaly, there is GM.

But one should not really poo poo GM too much because they really are tryinmg to "get it" and in some cases thet really do make a fine automobile with great MPG/Quality etc and they will continue to improve, improve, improve -- a mantra for the new century and beyond.

These percentages are not altogether useless, they are quite useful. True, many, myself included, will look at a few particular vehicles and compare them in their choice for an automobile.

But I like these averages because they paint an excellent picture of what the corporate policies and priorities of each company are. With the averages I can see clearly that Honda is a green company. With principle and conviction, as much as any cut-throat and competitive business envorinment will allow, Honda agressively and pro-actively pursues green and sustainable policies, R&D and production of their products.

It's a matter of what and who do I want to support with my money: a company that is big and fat after a hundred years and can put the most models on the road at present but has some pretty horrible company policies and changes its mind and statements at every expedient moment, or, to support a company that is not as large (who cares) but that consistently over their history has shown excellent overall company policy and protects the environment in the overwhelingly vast majority of its choices?

Looking from the perspective of these larger averages, which give a good picture of corporate policies and priorities, I don't know how anyone could say GM is "doing more." Well, that's not entirely fair: they are doing more than Ford and Chrysler acc. to these figures, so they don't deserve all the blame here. Looks like Chrysler is very culpable here!

And the companies don't "put the cars in the consumer's hands." We do. So it's not a [moot] point to talk high mileages and averages, even GM has put a sudden smile on its face recently and talks about fuel mileage these days. You can stay informed with these averages, as long as they're not twisted. The questions become: what do we do with those broad portraits painted for us with these percentages? What motivates us when we purchase a car? Are we short-sighted or do we look at the big picture (also)? Are we simply pragmatic or are we principled? I don't mean to sound so absolute here, it's not a simple either-or choice usually, I know that. Just something to think about.

Christ asked His disciples once: who gave more, all the rich poeple who give large amounts (but small percentages) out of their "abundance," or the widow who gave only two mites, yet which was her whole livelihood? The answer was: the widow.

Ha ha, now I'm not saying Honda's Christian, or connecting the two in any way, I'm just pointing out the principle is the same. Honda does more with what it has than Toyota or GM. GM does more with what it has now than Ford or Chrysler. This should be a factor if we would be conscientious in our buying habits. And don't make fun of the guy who is trying to be conscientious to protect this good God-given creation we still live in. It's egg on your face if you do.

Of course these percentages don't talk about quality of build, or longevity, or service, or aesthetics, or up-front cost, etc. These are also factors in our purchasing, just to be balanced. And we are all affected to some degree by those factors as well.


Last week I traded in my 2004 Honda Civic Hybrid for a 2006 Honda Civic Hybrid.

I never even thought of another carmaker. Nobody else but Toyota even made a vehicle that I would consider.

Certainly I would have considered a Prius but their marketing has turned me off to them. Automobile dealers just can't resist gouging when demand exceeds supply.

I like Fords. Most certainly I would have shopped them if they made a car close to what I wanted. I would have looked at GM's and Chrysler's also.

They made my choice easy. They don't make a vehicle I would even look at.

I am curious, do any of the GM supposed mileages take advantage of the E85 CAFE loophole?

The other problem I have with all this is that the bar is just too low. For a start, these are theoretical fuel consumption figures measured using an unrealistic model. Everyone knows you hardly ever get the quoted mileage. This is fine if you use the numbers just for comparison but hardly accurate to get a true idea of mileage. In Europe, where I am originally from, 30mpg was (10 years ago) considered a gas guzzler.

Perhaps this chart provides a clue as to why GM's future is, shall we say, uncertain. Doesn't having so many models just increase overhead and confuse the consumer? Perhaps GM should head the KISS concept. Keep it simple, stupid.

As for the issue of number of models over 30 mpg, I am so not impressed. Starting talking about 40 plus or 50 plus and then I will start paying attention.

Paul: I agree the bar is too low. I was driving cars that got 30 mpg 30 years ago. Granted, a stick and no air. If the auto companies can't do better than 30 mpg after 30 years and at least 3 gas "crises" then we are in sad shape.

GM does so much "badge engineering" that some cars get counted more times than they should.

Nobody spends 100% of their time on the highway, that's absurd. At the very LEAST the measuring stick should be the EPA combined score, which is 55% city, 45% highway, IIRC. Even better would be to just look at the city figure alone since for the majority of people the city figure is a lot closer to their overall average fuel economy for the lifetime of the vehicle. EPA City (and the real world) is generally where GM gets killed on fuel economy.

This says that their company, as a whole, is contributing more to cutting our dependence on oil.

Hi, GM rep!

Why? GM makes nice fuel efficient cars. Chevy Aveo or Pontiac Vibe, for example.
Just kidding.

I am curious, do any of the GM supposed mileages take advantage of the E85 CAFE loophole?

That's precisely why they're gung-ho about it. It radically boosts the fuel economy rating on their gas-guzzling trucks, all for about $100 upgrade that will likely rarely get used by the end consumer.

Covered all this for the prior MY in this thread:

http://www.greencarcongress.com/2006/05/sales_of_fullsi.html
post -- May 3, 2006 8:47:16 AM

Well, I know I personally would never look at a vehicle that gets less than 30mpg highway. I usually would hope for a combined 30mpg as a minimum and often tend to try to find vehicles that achieve atleast 30mpg city.

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