EPA annual report on CO2, fuel economy and technology trends finds 2012 heading for all-time best; rapid adoption of new technologies
|Adjusted CO2 emissions and adjusted fuel economy, MY 1975-2011. Source: EPA. Click to enlarge.|
The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released its annual report summarizing key trends in carbon dioxide emissions, fuel economy, and CO2- and fuel economy-related technology for gasoline- and diesel-fueled personal vehicles sold in the United States, from model years (MY) 1975 through 2012.
Data for MY 2011 are final; data for MY 2012 are preliminary and based on projected vehicle production values provided to EPA by manufacturers. The report finds that CO2 emissions rates and fuel economy values reflect a very favorable multi-year trend beginning in MY 2005. The fleet-wide average real world MY 2011 personal vehicle CO2 emissions value is 398 g/mi and average fuel economy is 22.4 mpg (10.5 l/100 km), both slightly worse relative to MY 2010. Preliminary projections for MY 2012 are 374 g/mi CO2 emissions and 23.8 mpg (9.9 l/100 km), which, if realized, would be all-time records and amongst the largest annual improvements since 1975.
Most CO2 emissions and fuel economy values in this report have been adjusted to reflect “real world” consumer performance and therefore are not comparable to CO2 emissions and fuel economy standards.
EPA suggests that the reduction in MY 2011 car and car parts production in Japan in the aftermath of the March 2011 earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear disasters “almost certainly” contributed to both the apparent slight worsening in MY 2011 and the large projected improvement in MY 2012. EPA estimates that the fleet-wide average MY 2011 CO2 emissions and fuel economy values would likely have been similar to or slightly better than MY 2010 levels if car production from major Japan-based manufacturers had not been constrained.
Using a 5-year timeframe, CO2 emission rates have decreased by 10% and fuel economy values have increased by 11% from MY 2006-2011. Based on preliminary estimates, CO2 emission rates have decreased by 13% and fuel economy values have increased by 16% from MY 2007-2012.
Other highlights of the report include:
Many new technologies are rapidly gaining market share. Technological innovation is a major driving force behind the recent improvements in CO2 emissions and fuel economy, and the majority of the carbon and oil savings from current vehicles is due to new gasoline vehicle technologies, EPA said.
Changes in light-duty vehicle technology penetration share. Source: EPA. Click to enlarge.
The use of gasoline direct injection systems has grown from essentially zero in MY 2007 to a projected 24% of the market in MY 2012. The use of turbochargers/superchargers has tripled from about 3% in MY 2007 to a projected 9% in MY 2012, while the use of cylinder deactivation has remained in the 8-9% range. Both conventional hybrids and diesel vehicles have increased market share slightly since MY 2007.
Through 2005, the 4-speed transmission was the dominant automatic transmission. Transmissions with 6 or more speeds and continuously variable transmissions cumulatively accounted for about 25% of vehicle production in MY 2007, but are projected to reach 75% market share in MY 2012.
Consumers have an increasing number of high fuel economy/low CO2 vehicle choices. The number of SUV, pickup, minivan, and van models that have combined EPA label values of 20 mpg (11.8 l/100 km) or more has increased by 71%, from 38 in 2007 to 65 in 2012. There are almost 3 times more SUVs with combined labels of 25 mpg (9.4 l/100 km) or more and 6 times more cars with ratings of 30 mpg (7.8 l/100km) or more. The number of cars with 40 mpg or higher (5.9 l/100 km) labels has increased from 2 in 2007 to 15 in 2012.
Manufacturers are selling many vehicles today that can meet future CO2 emission targets. EPA evaluated MY 2012 vehicles against future footprint-based CO2 emission targets to determine which vehicles could meet or exceed the targets in model years 2016-2025, based on current powertrain designs and assuming improvements in air conditioner refrigerants and efficiency.
Nearly 25% of projected MY 2012 vehicle production already meets the MY 2016 CO2 targets, or can meet these targets with the addition of expected air conditioning improvements. The bulk of this production share is accounted for by non-hybrid gasoline vehicles, although other technologies, including hybrids, electric vehicles, and diesel vehicles are also represented.
There are about 20 vehicle models (3% of projected 2012 production) that could meet the MY 2025 CO2 targets. Vehicles meeting the MY 2025 CO2 targets solely comprise hybrids, plug-in hybrids, electric vehicles, and fuel cell vehicles. Since the MY 2025 standards are over a decade away, there’s considerable time for continued improvements in gasoline vehicle technology, EPA notes.
Truck market share continues to be volatile. Light trucks accounted for 42% of all light-duty vehicle production in MY 2011—a 5% increase over MY 2010. The MY 2012 light truck market share is projected to be 36%, based on pre-model year production projections by automakers, which, if realized, would return truck market share to slightly below the MY 2010 level and to the second lowest level since 1993.
Light truck (which includes pickups, minivans/vans, and SUVs) market share has been very volatile in recent years, decreasing by 8% in MY 2009, and increasing by 4% in MY 2010 and by 5% in MY 2011. EPA suggests that three factors are at work: 1) MY 2009 was a particularly unusual year due to the serious economic recession that almost certainly led to an artificially low truck production share in that year, which then results in an apparently larger truck production share increase since MY 2009; 2) the Car Allowance Rebate System (CARS), commonly referred to as Cash for Clunkers resulted in 677,081 new vehicle purchases in 2009, and 3) the earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear tragedies in Japan in March 2011 almost certainly decreased the supply of cars from Japan (possibly trucks as well, but likely more cars than trucks), which likely contributed to the truck share increase in MY 2011 (as well as to the projected truck share decrease in MY 2012).
Vehicle power is at a record high, while the vehicle weight trend is generally flat. MY 2011 vehicle weight averaged 4,127 pounds (1,872 kg), an increase of 125 pounds (57 kg) compared to MY 2010. The average car weight increased 81 pounds (36.7 kg) and truck weight increased 40 pounds (18 kg), and the remaining difference was due to higher truck market share.
In MY 2011, the average vehicle power was 230 hp (172 kW), an increase of 16 horsepower since MY 2010. Car power increased by 10 horsepower and truck power increased by 18 horsepower, and the remaining difference was due to higher truck market share.
Estimated MY 2011 0-to-60 acceleration time decreased to 9.4 seconds. Preliminary MY 2012 values suggest that average vehicle weight and power will both decrease, though these projections are uncertain and EPA will not have final data until next year's report. While the preliminary MY 2012 weight value is lower than all but one year since 2001, the preliminary MY 2012 power value would still be the second highest value ever, exceeded only by MY 2011.