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ICCT Releases New Report Comparing Global Fuel Economy and CO2 Standards

Comparison of global fuel economy standards, normalized to CAFE mpg. The projection for Canada is calculated based on the voluntary GHG targets.The shaded area under the California line represents the uncertain amount of non-fuel economy related GHG reductions that manufacturers will generate. Click to enlarge.

With debate on light-duty vehicle fuel economy likely headed for the floor of the US House of Representatives, the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT) has released a new report comparing car and light truck fuel efficiency standards worldwide.

The report, which includes Feng An as an author, updates the 2004 An and Sauer study for the Pew Center on Global Climate Change that compiled GHG emission standards and passenger vehicle fuel economy from seven governments around the world.

Actual and projected GHG emissions, adjusted to NEDC test cycle. Click to enlarge.

The new ICCT report reflects changes in the development of vehicle standards in Japan, Europe, and the United States.

It also identifies new fiscal policies enacted in China and Canada that are designed to promote fuel-efficient vehicles and to discourage larger, inefficient vehicles.

Findings of the new report include:

  • Although Japan and Europe continue to lead the world with the most stringent passenger vehicle greenhouse gas and fuel economy standards (Japan’s being mandatory, with Europe poised to transition from voluntary to mandatory), the two are moving in opposite directions. In 2006, Japan increased the stringency of its fuel economy standards, while Europe is in the process of weakening its CO2 standards by shifting from a target of 120 g/km from the vehicle to 130 g/km from the vehicle.) As a result, Japan’s standards are expected to lead to the lowest fleet average greenhouse gas emissions for new passenger vehicles in the world (125 g/km) in 2015.

  • California’s GHG emission standards for passenger vehicles would achieve the greatest absolute emission per vehicle reductions from any policy in the world, although the emissions endpoint is still higher than that of a number of countries, including China, the EU and Japan.

  • US passenger vehicle standards continue to lag behind other industrialized nations, both in absolute terms as well as in the relative improvements required under current regulations to 2011. If targets under discussion in the Congress are enacted, the US could move ahead of Canada, Australia, South Korean and California by 2020.

  • Canada has established the world’s only active feebate program with significant incentives and levies for vehicles based on fuel consumption. At the same time, Canada plans to issue an attribute-based fuel economy regulation this fall to take effect in 2011, while it continues to implement its voluntary agreement with automakers.

  • The Chinese government warrants significant notice for reforming the passenger vehicle excise tax to encourage the production and purchase of smaller-engine vehicles, and to eliminate the preferential tax rate that applied to sport utility vehicles (SUVs).

  • South Korea is the only nation in the world with fuel economy standards for new passenger vehicles where fleet average fuel economy is projected to decline over the next five years. The South Korean government is considering policy options to address this negative trend.

Per vehicle GHG emission reduction associated with the most recent regulations by country. Click to enlarge.

In an attempt to partially control for the impact of variations in vehicle size, weight, technology penetration, and engine performance across countries, the report compared standards in terms of the absolute improvement required over each regulatory implementation period. That analysis yielded the conclusion that California’s regulations would achieve the greatest overall per vehicle reduction, even though the per vehicle emissions would still be higher than in other countries.

Fuel Economy and GHG Emissions Standards Around the World
Japan Fuel km/l Weight-based New JC08 Mandatory
EU CO2 g/km Single standard New NEDC Voluntary
China Fuel l/100km Weight-based New NEDC Mandatory
Canada GHG 5.3Mt reduction Vehicle class-based New and in-use US CAFE Voluntary
California GHG g/mile Vehicle class-based New US CAFE Mandatory
US Fuel mpg Single standard for cars; size-based for trucks New US CAFE Mandatory
Australia Fuel l/100km Single standard New NEDC Voluntary
South Korea Fuel km/l Engine size-based New US EPA City Mandatory
Taiwan Fuel km/l Engine size-based New US CAFE Mandatory




I am wondering if it really sound to compare GHG emissions 'normalized to NEDC'. How large are the the differences between NEDC, FTP-75, and JC08, plus how large are the differences in acutal on road performace. EPA gets the fuel economy numbers from the manufacturers. Are they using FTP-75, FTP-72, and urban driving cycles for their determinations? Out of curiousity does anyone know how long ago were these driving cycles determined and what the empirical parameters were. I can't seem to find the methodology anywhere.


The clue is in the name: FTP75...

the quoted figures for the US are derived from the FTP75 cycle which is itself derived from a simulated LA stop start drive cycle.

Both the EU and Japanese cycles are synthetic ie not at all real world but if you test back to back on the various cycles the differences are not great.

If you know the vehicle mass, test inertia,gearing etc it is not too hard to convert results from one test cycle to another. It is not ideal of course, a world test cycle much like the Motorcycle fraternity are adopting (search for WMTC) is a much better idea and prevents the manufacturers from having to develop and test on a variety of different cycles. This simplifies the product development process which ultimately makes it easier for an OEM to develop cars to a given standard.

Rafael Seidl

@ ac -

the test cycles are for the most part very old and a poor representation of real-world driving. To its credit, EPA has managed to convince the US auto industry that its 30-year old test procedures need to be updated, mostly because they yield unrealistically optimistic results for hybrids from a certain Japanese manufacturer.

The results of additional, more stringent tests that are already performed today because of emissions certification will be used to compute the EPA-estimated fuel economy that must by law be advertised in dealer showrooms. Results under the new regs will be displayed using a new sticker design. I believe the cutover will happen in 2009 and, consumers will initially be confused because the numbers under the new regs will be ~15% lower, making it harder to cross-shop against late model used cars.

Note that MPG values for CAFE and the gas guzzler tax will continue to be computed using the current, more lenient system. Afaik, the competing proposals on CAFE reform currently before the US Congress are also not based on the methodology EPA will use to provide information to consumers.

BTW: official emissions and MPG numbers don't come from the manufacturers but rather the type certifications performed by the regulating agencies themselves.


The reasons each geography maintains its own test cycles - other than continued employment for government officials - are different traffic patterns and plain old protectionism via technical standards. While EPA and CARB cycles are based on (totally antiquated) real-world statistics, the synthetic NEDC was designed for ease of implementation with a manual transmission. An actual driver sits in the vehicle on the dynamometer and has to keep simulated vehicle speed within a narrow tolerance band throughout the 11-minute test. The cycle even prescribes the gear shift points. If he fails, the car has to cool down again for at least six hours before he can try again, which is a hassle.

To estimate real-world fuel economy, European univiersities and some manufacturers already use another, much newer cycle called CADC (Common Artemis drive cycle) that is based on statistical analysis of a slew of recent measurements in actual cars driven by members of the general public in urban, rural and highway contexts. It features higher, unsteady speeds and more frequent acceleration events than the NEDC, but the airco is still switched off. However, the CADC is more difficult to reproduce faithfully, especially with a manual transmission. It also yields less favorable numbers, two reasons why the industry is not keen to see it adopted for official type certification.

For more on the gory details of how such drive cycles are defined, see here:


Rafael Seidl

What's interesting about the results is how Europe, Japan and China are all aggressively pursuing policies to reduce per-vehicle fuel consumption. This is mostly because they have little if any domestic oil left and, neither the capability nor the inclination to try and secure access to foreign (e.g. Middle Eastern) oil by military means. Not that the US and UK are having much luck with that right now.

California's effort is laudable, given that it is currently home to the largest concentration of gas guzzlers on the planet. Part of that may be due to new-found religion around global warming/energy security and/or ambitious bureaucrats looking to once again shape the direction of US legislation for decades to come. More likely, the real issue is that California expects a serious shortfall in refinery capacity. It's extremely strict emissions standards mean only local refineries are currently equipped to produce the required fuel quality. Obtaining planning permission for expansion, let alone building a new refinery from scratch, is de facto impossible in the land of the NIMBY.


in a word, let's hope peak oil arrives sooner rather than later. To state the obvious: scarcity is the engine of innovation.

The EU just published a report showing that it can import sufficient quantities of hydrogen produced from renewables outside of the EU (Africa, Asia, North Atlantic).

Check it out:
July 31, 2007: EU project: long-distance hydrogen transport and trade feasible

We would start with hydrogen from Iceland, for the transport sector. Then scale things up and create a diverse pool of sources.


It appears to be a 'Tower of Babel' of international fuel milage standards created by politicians and bureaucrats to protect their own interest.

Stan Peterson


Your thought echo mine, precisely.

California is in effect "cherry-picking" all the "best fuel" and decreeing that that is all that can be consumed in California. The rest of the world can go jump. And, oh by the way, we demand you make this "good stuff", for us superior Californians.

You and I know that terms like "gasoline" and "diesel" are really broad categories for mixtures of hydrocarbons that conform broadly to certain flammability standards. Gasoline is the undefined mixture of hydrocarbons that might be any collection of specific hydrocarbons that range in molecular weight from about 8 Carbons to say 14 Carbons per molecule. "Diesel" is another broad mixture centered on heavier or more carbons per molecule.

If you super refine the fuel and select only the "best hydrocarbons" you will have a superior fuel. But then what happens to the other stuff? It must get either be cracked, to reduce the molecular weight; or polymerized, to create heavier molecules; to use as other fuel.

Doing this separating and re-construction, all cost energy to do. The specialized step to do this will need factories be built to do it.

All these activities take place in special factories called "refineries", that California will not allow to be either erected not expanded in California. So it will have to be done elsewhere, if at all, with all the additional pollution.

Otherwise somebody else will have to just get by while burning the "poor fuel" remnants.

The net result? MORE than the same hydrocarbons get burnt, to move the SAME people and their goods, around the same distance. MORE than the same total pollution takes place. The CARB idiots expand their make work bureaucracy empires; and the Gaia worshipers think they have done something for the environment.

In reality, all they have done is increase the amount of total hydrocarbons consumed; but they can FEEL BETTER as concerned, first-class, California people.

As we know REALITY has nothing to do with it. For all good Little Liberals, FEELINGS, not reality, are what counts.

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