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EPA trends report sees record levels of average new vehicle fuel economy and CO2 emissions for MY 2012; role of new gasoline vehicle technologies

Manufacturer-specific technology adoption over time for key technologies. EPA projects advanced transmissions (6+ speeds and CVTs), gasoline direct injection (GDI) systems, and turbocharged engines will be installed on at least 15% of all MY 2013 vehicles. Click to enlarge.

Average new vehicle CO2 emissions rate and fuel economy in the US achieved record levels in MY 2012, and have improved in 7 of the last 8 years, according to the newly released Light-Duty Automotive Technology, Carbon Dioxide Emissions, and Fuel Economy Trends: 1975 - 2013 (the annual “Trends” report) from the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The majority of the emissions and fuel savings from current vehicles, EPA noted, is due to new gasoline vehicle technologies.

The final model year (MY) 2012 adjusted, real world CO2 emissions rate is 376 g/mi—a 22 g/mi decrease (-5.5%) relative to MY 2011. MY 2012 adjusted fuel economy is 23.6 mpg (9.97 l/100 km), which is 1.2 mpg higher (+5.4%) than MY 2011. Both values represent all-time records since the database began in MY 1975, and the authors of the report believe that these represent historical records as well. The 1.2 mpg fuel economy improvement from MY 2011 to MY 2012 is the second largest annual improvement in the last 30 years.

Preliminary MY 2013 adjusted values are 370 g/mi CO2 emissions and 24.0 mpg (9.8 l/100 km) fuel economy, which, if achieved, will again represent all-time records. Final values for MY 2013 will be published in next year’s report.

Based on the final Trends data through MY 2012, CO2 emissions have decreased by 85 g/mi, or 18%, since MY 2004, and fuel economy has increased by 4.3 mpg, or 22%.

Other highlights of the latest Trends report include:

  1. Light truck market share decreased in MY 2012, but continues to be variable. Light trucks (pickups, minivans/vans, and truck SUVs), accounted for 36% of all light-duty vehicle production in MY 2012, the second lowest level since 1993. This represents a 6% decrease relative to MY 2011, and essentially offsets the 5% increase from MY 2010 to MY 2011. The MY 2013 light truck market share is projected to remain at 36%, based on pre-model year projections by automakers.

    Light truck market share has been variable in recent years, e.g., truck share has changed by 4% or more in each year for MY 2009-2012, with two years of increases and two years of decreases. Three factors that have likely contributed to the volatility in truck share include: 1) MY 2009 was a particularly unusual year due to the serious economic recession; 2) the Car Allowance Rebate System (CARS)—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, which decreased the supply of cars from Japan, and likely contributed to the truck share increase in MY 2011 (as well as to the projected truck share decrease in MY 2012).

  2. Epa2
    Change in Adjusted fuel economy, weight, and horsepower for MY 1975-2013. Click to enlarge.

    Vehicle weight trend is flat and increasing vehicle power trend is slowing. From MY 1987 through MY 2004, on a fleet-wide basis, automotive technology innovation was generally utilized to support vehicle attributes other than CO2 emissions and fuel economy, such as weight, performance, and utility. Beginning in MY 2005, technology has been used to increase both fuel economy (which has reduced CO2 emissions) and power, while keeping vehicle weight relatively constant.

    MY 2012 vehicle weight averaged 3,977 pounds (1,804 kg), a decrease of 150 pounds (-3.6%) compared to MY 2011. Average MY 2012 vehicle power was 222 horsepower (166 kW), a decrease of 8 horsepower (-3.5%) from MY 2011. Estimated 0-to-60 acceleration time in MY 2012 was unchanged at 9.4 seconds. Average vehicle footprint declined by 0.7 square feet in MY 2012. The decrease in light truck market share was a major factor in the lower weight, horsepower, and footprint.

    Preliminary MY 2013 values suggest that average vehicle weight and power will both increase, though these projections are uncertain, and EPA will not have final data until next year’s report. The preliminary MY 2013 average weight is relatively unchanged over the last decade. The preliminary MY 2013 horsepower value would tie the record first set in MY 2011.

  3. Epa1
    Five-year change in light duty vehicle technology penetration share. Click to enlarge.

    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.

    Two engine technologies first introduced more than 20 years ago—variable valve timing (VVT) and multi-valve engines—are both projected to be used on more than 90% of MY 2013 vehicles.

    Market share of gasoline turbo vehicles. Click to enlarge.

    Gasoline direct injection (GDI) engines have increased market share ten-fold from less than 3% in MY 2008 to more than 30% in MY 2013. Turbochargers, which are often used in conjunction with GDI, have increased market share by a factor of five since MY 2008.

    Transmissions with 6 or more speeds and continuously variable transmissions (CVTs) cumulatively accounted for about 30% of vehicle production in MY 2008, but are projected to exceed 80% market share in MY 2013.

    Compared to the engine and transmission technologies discussed above, there has been far less growth in the production shares of hybrid and diesel powertrains and cylinder deactivation (CD).

  4. Consumers have an increasing number of high fuel economy/low CO2 vehicle choices. Consumers have more choices than ever when shopping for vehicles with higher fuel economy and lower tailpipe CO2 emissions. These choices reflect both a more diverse range of technology packages on conventional gasoline vehicles as well as more advanced technology and alternative fueled vehicles.

    There are 15 MY 2013 pickup and minivan/van models for which at least one variant of the model has a combined city/highway label fuel economy rating of 20 mpg (11.8 l/100 km) or more, compared with nine models five years ago. There are more than twice as many SUV models that achieve 25 mpg (9.4 l/100 km) or more in MY 2013 than in MY 2008. The number of non-hybrid SUVs that achieved 25 mpg increased from four in MY 2008 to 17 in MY 2013, more than a four-fold increase.

    The number of car models where at least one variant has a combined city/ highway label fuel economy of 30 mpg (7.8 l/100 km) or more increased by five-fold, and the number of car models at 40 mpg (5.9 l/100 km) or more have increased from three to more than 20 (all hybrid, electric and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles).

    In MY 2013, there are three times as many hybrid offerings as there were in MY 2008. In addition, the number of diesel offerings has doubled, and there are growing numbers of electric vehicles and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles as well.

  5. Nearly every manufacturer increased fuel economy in MY 2012, resulting in lower CO2 emission rates. Ten of the eleven major manufacturers increased fuel economy from MY 2011 to MY 2012, the last two years for which EPA has definitive data. (VW was the exception.) Preliminary MY 2013 values suggest that most manufacturers will improve in MY 2013 as well, though these projections are uncertain, and EPA will not have final data until next year’s report.

    In MY 2012, for the 11 manufacturers shown, Mazda had the lowest fleet-wide adjusted composite CO2 emissions and highest adjusted fuel economy performance, followed by Honda. Chrysler-Fiat had the highest CO2 emissions and lowest fuel economy, followed by Daimler. Daimler had the biggest improvement in adjusted CO2 emissions performance from MY 2011 to MY 2012, with a 43 g/mi reduction, followed by Honda with a 35 g/mi reduction. Honda had the biggest fuel economy improvement from MY 2011 to MY 2012, of 2.5 mpg, while Mazda had the second largest increase of 2.1 mpg.

  6. Manufacturers are selling many vehicles today that can meet future CO2 emissions targets. EPA evaluated MY 2013 vehicles against future footprint-based CO2 emissions regulatory targets to determine which vehicles could meet or exceed their future targets in MY 2016-2025. These comparisons were based on current powertrain designs, assuming improvements only in air conditioner refrigerants and efficiency.

    EPA assumed air conditioning improvements since these are considered to be among the most straightforward and least expensive technologies available to reduce CO2 and other greenhouse gas emissions. It is important to note there are no CO2 emissions standards for individual vehicles. Rather, there are manufacturer-specific compliance levels for both passenger car and light truck fleets. The compliance levels for each manufacturer are derived from the footprint-based CO2 emissions target curves, and the production volume-weighted distribution of vehicles produced for sale in the US by each manufacturer.

    28% of projected MY 2013 vehicle production already meets the MY 2016 CO2 emissions 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 diesels, hybrids, plug-in electric hybrids, electric vehicles, and compressed natural gas vehicles, are also represented.

    Looking ahead, about 5% of projected MY 2013 production could meet the MY 2025 CO2 emissions targets. Vehicles meeting the MY 2025 CO2 targets solely comprise hybrids, plug-in hybrids, and electric vehicles. Since the MY 2025 standards are more than a decade away, there’s considerable time for continued improvements in gasoline vehicle technology, EPA noted.




It is not difficult to set new "records" every year when the starting point for CO2 reduction is so atrociously bad.

23.6 mpg is atrouciously bad. We should all be averaging 45mpg by now.


I never understood why hybrids sold so poorly in Europe with $8 per gallon gasoline. Prius sold very few units in London the first few years. I would think people would be lining up to save expensive fuel.


J7..a 50-50 mix of Prius and Camry Hybrids could do that a few years ago while reducing maintenance by 50% or so.


SJC...many small diesel vehicles used in EU consume about the same as the average Hybrid and undermine the purchase of slightly more efficient cleaner Hybrids.

PHEVs offer lower consumption level but are more expensive than HEVs and Diesels.

When PHEVs sell for the same price or less than equivalent diesel ICEVs, they will gain market share.


So, according to you, PHEVs will never gain market share in EU because of the price penalty? Currently, only wealthy persons and companies are buying PHEVs, presumably, because of image reasons. Cost is not an issue for these buyers but they could also afford using more fuel.


Note that EPA do not even mention the problem of particle emissions from GDIs.


Habits are rarely changed overnight. Europeans like their long lasting, reliable, low fuel consumption diesels ICEVs.

PHEVs with enough batteries for 50 Km or so and very small (600 cc) diesel genset would sell if they could be built for the same cost as equivalent diesel ICEVs?

Renault, Peugeot, BMW, VW, Volvo and Mercedes have been working on it but no affordable mass produced units on the market yet.

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