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EPA Reports Fifth Consecutive Annual Increase in US New Vehicle Fuel Economy; Up 9% Since 2004, Back to Levels of Early 1980s

Adjusted CO2 emissions and adjusted fuel economy by model year. Source: EPA. Click to enlarge.

For the fifth consecutive year, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is reporting an increase in new vehicle fuel efficiency with a corresponding decrease in average carbon dioxide emissions for new US cars and light duty trucks. This marks the first time that data for CO2 emissions are included in the annual report, Light-Duty Automotive Technology, Carbon Dioxide Emissions, and Fuel Economy Trends: 1975 through 2009.

For 2008, the last year for which EPA has final data from automakers, the average fuel economy value was 21.0 mpg US (11.2 L/100km). EPA projects a small improvement in 2009, based on pre-model year sales estimates provided to EPA by automakers, to 21.1 mpg (11.1 L/100km). The projected fleetwide average real world MY2009 light-duty vehicle CO2 emissions level is 422 grams per mile (g/mi); the fleetwide average MY2008 value is 424 g/mi.

Characteristics of light-duty vehicles for four select model years. Source: EPA

The report confirms that average CO2 emissions have decreased and fuel economy has increased each year beginning in 2005. Average CO2 emissions have decreased by 39 grams per mile, or 8%, and average fuel economy has increased by 1.8 mpg, or 9%, since 2004. This positive trend beginning in 2005 reverses a long period of increasing CO2 emissions and decreasing fuel economy from 1987 through 2004, and returns CO2 emissions and fuel economy to levels of the early 1980s.

Other findings in the report include:

  • Light trucks, which include SUVs, vans, and pickup trucks, have accounted for about 50% of the US light-duty vehicle market since MY2002. After two decades of constant growth, light truck market share has been relatively stable from 2002 through 2009. The MY2009 light truck market share is projected to be 49%, based on pre-model year production projections by automakers.

  • Automotive engineers are constantly developing more advanced and efficient vehicle technologies. From 1987 through 2004, on a fleetwide basis, this technology innovation was utilized exclusively to support market-driven attributes other than CO2 emissions and fuel economy, such as vehicle weight (which supports vehicle content and features), performance, and utility. Beginning in MY2005, technology has been used to increase both fuel economy (which has reduced CO2 emissions) and performance, while keeping vehicle weight relatively constant.

  • Seven of the nine highest-selling marketing groups increased fuel economy (which also reduced CO2 emissions) from MY2007 to MY2008. Preliminary values suggest that four of the nine marketing groups will increase fuel economy (thereby reducing CO2 emissions) in MY2009, and one marketing group will maintain constant levels, based on projected production provided to EPA by automakers prior to the start of the model year. Actual MY2009 values will likely be different than the preliminary MY2009 values reported.

  • Preliminary MY2009 values suggest that Honda will continue to have the lowest fleetwide CO2 emissions (and highest fuel economy), followed closely by Hyundai-Kia and Toyota. Chrysler is projected to have the highest MY2009 CO2 emissions, reversing most of its gains from the previous year. Ford is projected to show the largest CO2 reductions, with its projected MY2009 CO2 emissions being 37 g/mi lower than MY2007 and 25 g/mi lower than MY2008. Ford and General Motors are the two marketing groups that showed improvement in MY2008 and are projected to do so again in MY2009.

  • Hybrids are projected to have 1.8% share of MY2009 sales, diesels 0.5%.

The latest CO2 emissions and fuel economy values reflect EPA’s best estimates of real world CO2 emissions and fuel economy performance. They are consistent with the fuel economy estimates that EPA provides on new vehicle window stickers and in the Fuel Economy Guide. These real world fuel economy values are about 20% lower, on average, than those used for compliance with the corporate average fuel economy program under DOT.




Can't beleive I have to post this. Someone hacked into the email server at University of East Anglia. Their reports have been used to push legislation in Europe and North America.

Colluding and warping data to fit the theory of global warming. False information, outright manipulation of numbers, destroying evidence counter to thier AGW outcome, tactics on blackballing decenters of AGW.......

Man it's bad - AGW might be a huge hoax.
I'm depressed now.


Progress is extremely slow, less than 2% per year improvement. America could do better than that, specially is the financial mess stays around for another year or two.

A progressive increse in fuel taxes may be required to sent a clear message home. We should be driving 35 mpg vehicles now and 50 mpg by 2015/2016. There are no acceptable reasons why we could not drive 60+ mpg vehicles by 2020/2021. The Toyota Prius IV (and many others) will certainly do it.


Josepht dont freak yes its what I warned about months back. It was obvious to some that yes this sort of .. creeping failure on thier part was likely happening. It often happens when people get that deeply emotionaly involved in a subject and come across things that shake thier "faith".

Unfortunetly if its true it will trigger one bloody hell of a backlash which was what I was always afraid might happen.

On the subject of this article... dont forget creeping changes in how the mesaure fuel economy have twisted the trueth that in fact fuel economy has drasticaly changed since the 80s but not so much for the better because its mostly adapting to the TEST they use rather then the way people actualy drive. And a huge amount of the milage was lost with the weaker fuel used today.


JosephT: There is nothing to be bummed out about...there have been incredible gains with America's energy independence since 9/11, and I hope America can be 100% energy independent someday through renewables. Personally, I don't think cap-and-trade & more taxes and government is the way to get there...actually, I think it's the opposite - I support "Renewables Through Reaganomics": eliminate all taxes on renewable energy companies until further notice. Can you imagine what would happen in the renewable energy sector if companies were longer burdened with the world's highest corporate tax rate? (America's corporate tax rate is the highest)



to think that renewable can get a substantial share of or energy supply without increasing taxes on fossil energies is genuinely naive and for a simple reason :they can't be cost competitive, the share of hybrid car don't grow with a gas at 3$ / gallon, so don't fool yourself with such irresponsible belief


Reducing fossil fuel usage and using less imported oil is my goal, if it helps reduce global warming, then great. I do not anchor what we should do about fossil fuels to global warming. Using less fossil fuels is the goal and other benefits like national and economic security are side benefits.


The early 80's are not known for fuel efficient vehicles either as this corresponds to the inefficiencies of 'primitive' pollution control measures.

The figures therefore are all the worse. Not that there was an alternative.
Except for the EV-1 etc path.

The early pollution control systems were poor on economy at the best of times and often were running way off even that as the techs baffled by 'science?' and silly fixes, disconnected and filled hoses with ball bearings.

Lets not make the same mistake again.

Generally speaking - electric machines are immune to these pollution control issues but chassis and maintenance solutions should be maintenance friendly.

Chassis tuning and servicing can easily see 20% efficiency benefits.


Treehugger, if you think gas will stay below $3, you are naive. Valero closed their New Jersey refinery because it was not profitable. Exploring for and drilling for oil will become increasingly unattractive vs. wind and solar, or even ethenol. At some point soon, we will simply have less supply of petroleum forcing prices up. I don't know when that will occur, but it will.

That said, I too support taxes on fossil fuel. Let's get on with it.


Correction, the Valero refinery is in Delaware.



I am not naive enough to ignore the problem of supply, the problem being if you wait that shortage or production constrained limitation (like peak oil) drive the price up, this is too late and you are in big trouble, because then you are trapped in spiral of price volatility and depressing economic shocks wave that will make any action very difficult. You have to increase gas tax now to force people to adapt to a more expensive energy, and you might have to ease the tax when the demand outstrip the supply to prevent inflation of the gas price. Is it too hard for your neurons ?

Stan Peterson


If you want to measure things like progress, don't constantly change the yardstick in mid stream. NHTSA established the CAFE measures,uses th exact same measure to measure 1973 cars as it measure 2010 cars and only applied a cosmetic change once.

In 1970 before the oil PRICE crisis, the average auto mobile obtained 8-9 mpg and the very best got 16 highway. Naturally it was a foreign "fuel-efficient" make, the VW bug, with 42 hp. Today every automaker and all the domestic fleets achieve over 31 mpg CAFE, using exactly that very same yardstick, for cars and light trucks.

Now don't give me the variable measurements and horse manure of the EPA window stickers than get changed and modified, on a whim, like in 2007 and 2008 Mileage figures. Using exactly the same length measures as for for feet and inches, mileage has more than tripled, and will soon quadruple or quintuple, in the next half decade, using essentially the same technology, but vastly improved, of the ICE.

It will zoom to triple digits as the fleet electrifies over the coming decades.

Raising Taxes is reducing disposable income; that prevents the modernized fleet from upgrading to better, more efficient, and less toxic cars. It is the politicians salvation and justification for taxing more, and leftist answer to all problems.

The reality is where it has been tried, they drive the dirtiest cars, (dirty diesels), with the poorest toxic emissions toxic controls, (EU 4, 5, and someday 6), along with the most unsafe crash standards.

All higher taxes do is give governmental drones more money to lavish on pets, like Fisker who produces zero cars, probably will never actually construct a car, but is politically wired, with a major owner Al Gore, and VP Biden, beholden for buying a dead plant as an excuse to someday, perhaps, to reopen it, in his State. Doesn't that merit $528 million dollars of boodling money?

OTOH, Low fuel price America, has a much cleaner auto fleet, is approaching zero pollution ICEs as a routine purchase offering, and rising use of technology from Asia and Detroit, with HEVs, PHEVs, BEVs, and EREVs having a much higher penetration than in high fuel price through taxes, Europe.

Someone forgot to tell the green enviros, that people have to actually be able to afford to buy green cars, to benefit from them.


Treehugger needs to hug some facts: if American renewable energy corporations were exempt from taxes & reinvested the ~40% tax they otherwise paid to state and federal governments, can you imagine explosion in innovation, growth & jobs?

Renewables Through Reaganomics!



Save your neurons comments for people who disagree with your premise, like Stan P. I agree with you. My only point was that $3 gas is near at hand. I do agree taxes redirected as incentives is better than market forces transferring the money to non-investment purposes.


Raising taxes may reduce disposable income of individuals, but it increases disposable income of the government. It matters not who makes energy saving decisions, as long as they are made. Money circulates, it is not locked in a vault.

Stan Peterson

J martin,

Ask any economist and the "value"of a government dollar spent It is much less thsan a private sector dollar spent. Go read up on monetary velocity. Besides buying some useless things, government manages to not accomplish much with its dollars spent.

According to Mr. Obama's own calculation, it cost the government only $954,000 dollars to "save" each of the mythical jobs it claims to have done with the stimulus bill. If the real number of jobs saved were used instead, the cost would be well over $2,000,000 dollars per job, or even more.


"Man it's bad - AGW might be a huge hoax.
I'm depressed now."

It's what we've known all along. Just not this bad. You're depressed?? Phil Jones, Director of the CRU at U of East Anglia has been put on suicide watch. Caught in his own wicked web.

Government dollars are generally poorly leveraged due to unwieldy size and heaps of restrictions. And well-intentioned programs like Cash for Clunkers end up costing taxpayers $24k per car.



I paste the message I had already written in another post:

"It's a simple economics class problem: Having the environnement destroyed is a negative externality. The only way for the market to move away from this, is to force it to internalise the cost of the negative externality. Now you can have long debates on how to measure the importance of pollution, how to point out who does what between cars farmers industry.... but the point is somewhere you need a tax because the environnement, although it is absolutely necessary for all of us, does not cost anything, does not sue you if you pollute it etc... That's where governments are supposed to step in: guided only by the better good of the nation, they put just the right tax so that the (altered, yes) market guides consumers to buy what is socially optimal for them, the others and the environment. Or the government can be lobbied, representatives can only think about reelection and it all ends up with an awful proposal that is good neither for consumers or the environment.... I was just explaining the theory and why when speaking of the environment, the government has to step in."

And I don't agree that firms would invest in green if they weren't taxed: they'd invest in what gives them more money, and that would be oil-related business, because with oil so cheap, all other solutions are much more expensive.


read: "too expensive"


Americans are driving more not less and will certainly drive even more by 2020.

The only sure ways to reduce fuel consumption and crude oil imports would be to produce more local fuel and/or use more efficient vehicles.

Both are possible.

Increasing local fossil fuel production, in a sustainable way, is out of the question but agro-fuel production could be increased, and we could certainly drive more efficient vehicles, such as the Prius III and future Prius IV etc.

Electrified trains to transport trucks trailers and containers + electric tractor units at each end for local pick-up and delivery could reduce traffic on most highways and reduce diesel consumption.

Electric and/or hybrid city buses and taxis could also help.


Unfortunately all the good intentions of government mitigating pollution and promoting equity amongst people are completely, utterly destroyed by bad faith.

It is bad faith and pure corruption we are seeing in the unfolding fraud of "climate change" experts. And their arrogance, greed, and self-interest has set back the work of sincere environmentalists and scientists for decades.

A scandal of the proportion that the climate cabal has been caught at is so large as to permanently damage the welfare of the entire planet. Which is perhaps their goal. Which makes them our enemy.


Unfortunately all the good intentions of government mitigating pollution and promoting equity amongst people are completely, utterly destroyed by bad faith.

It is bad faith and pure corruption we are seeing in the unfolding fraud of "climate change" experts. And their arrogance, greed, and self-interest has set back the work of sincere environmentalists and scientists for decades.

A scandal of the proportion that the climate cabal has been caught at is so large as to permanently damage the welfare of the entire planet. Which is perhaps their goal. Which makes them our enemy.

Stan Peterson

The Hadley CRU climate scandal in which the top dozen or so "Worldwide Authorities", including their American associates, on so-called "Climate Change" and "Global Warming" are revealed by their own words and deeds, to be venal, human beings, and much of their publications and dire statements, nothing but pure fabrications.

They did destroy and alter expensively gathered data, with made up other data from whole cloth, and applied fudge factors, to continue to justify their big budgets, fame, personal emoluments, and Nobel Peace Prizes etc.

But don't throw the baby out with the bathwater.

There WAS a need to investigate whether man-made contributions to GHGs can significantly alter the Climate. Now it appears, they can't come anywhere near doing so. They simply aren't powerful enough to do so.

There IS a also valid need, that we have almost completed here in America, to rid the air of toxic pollutants and to clean the fields and streams of toxics, begun long before the coming of the EPA.

Mankind had begun cleaning his environment when the Paleolithic cave men started creating privies. The coming of the automobile, removed a large, looming pollution problem, often and freely debated in 1900, of animal manures polluting our cities. The modern diesel-electric locomotive replaced the soot and cinders of the steam locomotive, long before Ms. Carlson was even born or the EPA contemplated.

Small changes on the order of .25-.50 degrees per doubling, as Dr. R S Lindzen the climatologist of MIT has shown the ERBE climate satellites to reveal; or the work of numerous others, are very benign.

But we had to know whether there was truly a problem. Mild increases in CO2 are plant fertilizer, and increase the stunted Plant biosphere by some 30-45%. That is all to the good.

Don't begrudge the Research, either. North America is a net carbon sink consuming both all the natural GHGs and all that 6% of the World's population create while making 25% of the World's goods. Its good to know that.

Only don't get carried away with non-appropriate re-actions like Cap & Tax, Carbon Taxes, Fuel taxes etc.

Stan Peterson


You seem to believe that only socialized systems can cleanse the environment. You speak of internalizing cost. That is a a left conceit,often proclaimed, that is wholly without any evidence.

Efficiency is its own reward. Efficiency means making less of waste side products. Fewer side products means more salable goods from a given input. More salable goods, means more profit, and an advantage over competitors. So costs ARE internalized.

The real evidence of social ownership is that it is easily corrupted by the politically connected. From the environmental practices of the East bloc, to the mis-management of our domestic National forests, when "Everyone" owns the resources, "No-one" takes care of it. It is a manifestation of the economic dilemma called the "commons" problem.

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