|Change in market share for different vehicle categories. Source: CFA. Click to enlarge.|
For the first time, more than 50% of the current year’s light-duty (LD) vehicles in the US get more than 23 mpg (10.2 l/100 km), according to an analysis by the Consumer Federation of America (CFA). CFA selected 23 mpg as a benchmark for this analysis because it is the EPA fuel economy label equivalent to the 30.6 mpg (7.7 l/100 km) overall corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) requirement for 2014. Five years ago, only 19% of models got 23 mpg.
CFA categorized 1,099 2014 passenger vehicle models into 10 different fuel economy rating categories. 11.6% of the models deliver more than 30 mpg (7.8 l/100 km), up from 1.6% five years ago. For the first time, there are no 2014 models getting below 13 mpg (18.1 mpg US).
Fuel economy remained relatively stagnant from 2002 to 2008, with the first real increase coming following the passage of the Energy Security and Independence Act (EISA) in 2007 during the Bush administration. Another jump occurred in 2009 when the “Phase 1” standard for 2012-2016 was announced. (“Phase 1” accelerated the EISA requirements and called for a CAFE average of 35.5 mpg by 2016.)
2010 saw the largest single annual increase (more than 50%) in the number of vehicles with a fuel economy rating of more than 23 mpg.
To factor vehicle popularity into assessing manufacturer progress towards the 2025 standard, CFA analyzed what are expected to be the top 25 selling 2014 models and how they measure up in meeting the 2014 CAFE requirements. For 2014, all 25 top sellers have at least one model that meets the 2014 CAFE standard. For 16 out of the top 25 vehicles, the model expected to be the most popular meets the 2014 standard.
This demonstrates that manufacturers are meeting the standards with popular vehicles and consumers are buying them.—Jack Gillis, director of public affairs for CFA and author of The Car Book.
CFA also examined how progress towards new standards could potentially impact market choices and found that consumers would not be forced into undesired vehicle categories.
The number of models getting at least 23 mpg increased by 118% for subcompacts, 245% for midsize cars, and 149% for SUVs. In every size category, with the exception of mini-vans and pick-ups, consumers are being offered greater fuel efficiency choices in 2014 than they were in 2009.