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EPA Trends on EVs and PHEVs; beginning of a “measurable and meaningful impact” on new vehicle fuel economy and emissions

The US Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) annual report “Light-Duty Automotive Technology, Carbon Dioxide Emissions, and Fuel Economy Trends” (earlier post) has, in its past editions since its inception in 1975, treated alternative fuel vehicles—electric vehicles (EVs), plug-in hybrid vehicles (PHEVs), and compressed natural gas (CNG) vehicles—separately from gasoline and diesel vehicles, with the vast majority of its analysis limited to gasoline and diesel vehicles only.

The agency’s reasoning was that since alternative fuel vehicle production has generally been less than 0.1% of total vehicle production until very recently, the impact of excluding alternative fuel vehicles was negligible. With alternative fuel vehicles now approaching 1% of new vehicle production, however, they are in fact beginning to have a “measurable and meaningful impact” on overall new vehicle fuel economy and CO2 emissions.

EPA Trends report
The EPA report is an authoritative reference for CO2emissions, fuel economy, and powertrain technology trends for new personal vehicles in the United States.
EPA obtains the detailed data supporting the report directly from automobile manufacturers; the agency has been collecting and maintaining these data since 1975. They comprise the most comprehensive database of its kind.
The Trends report has been published annually since 1975 and covers all passenger cars, sport utility vehicles, minivans, and all but the largest pickup trucks and vans.

Thus, for the first time, in the newly released 2014 edition of the Trends report, EPA presents a brief analysis of the impact of alternative fuel vehicles on overall new vehicle fuel economy and CCO2O2 emissions. In the analysis, EPA uses overall fuel economy in mpg equivalent (mpge) and tailpipe CO2 emission values. Including net upstream CO2 emissions for vehicles operating on electricity would reduce the positive impact of alternative fuel vehicles on fleet-wide CO2 emissions, the agency noted.

In MY 2013, there were 11 EVs and 4 PHEVs available in the market; MY 2014 has 12 (counting the Tesla Model S 60 and 80 as one) EVs on the market and 10 PHEVs, along with the lone CNG car, the Honda Civic. (In this tally, the BMW i3 counts as an EV in its battery-only configuration and as a PHEV when equipped with a range extender.) More are coming to the US market, such as the Audi A3 e-tron plug-in hybrid and Volkswagen e-Golf BEV.

The combined production of alternative fueled vehicles has increased from under 1,200 in MY 2010, to nearly 105,000 in MY 2013. While alternative fueled vehicles still represent a very limited portion of overall new vehicle production (0.7% of overall light-duty vehicle production in MY 2013), this increase by a factor of about 100 in three years is both notable and significant.

—EPA 2014 Trends report

Overall fuel economy (miles per gallon gasoline equivalent) and average tailpipe + net upstream CO2 emissions for EVs and PHEVs in 2014 Trends report. Fuel economy average for the US fleet, per the Trends report, is 24.1 mpg. Data: EPA. Click to enlarge.

Alt fuel vehicle impact on OEMs. Alternative fuel vehicles represented 0.7% of new vehicle production in MY 2013, according to EPA. Including mpge and tailpipe CO2—i.e., not full well-to-wheels CO2—emissions from alternative fuel vehicles (AFV) increases the overall MY 2013 new vehicle fuel economy by 0.1 mpg, and reduces the overall CO2 emissions by 3 g/mi.

Of the major manufacturers (production above 100,000 vehicles), Nissan had the highest concentration of AFV production at 2.0%, followed by GM at 1.2%. Including AFVs improves Nissan’s performance the most, increasing MY 2013 fuel economy by 0.4 mpge overall, and decreasing Nissan’s MY 2013 CO2 emissions by 7 g/mi.

Tesla, which sells exclusively EVs, had the highest fuel economy of any manufacturer in terms of mpge. (Interestingly, according to the EPA figures, the Tesla Model S also is toward the bottom of fuel consumption figures for battery-electric vehicles, surpassing only the BYD e6 (the lowest of the BEVs), the Toyota RAV-4 and the Mercedes-Benz B-Class—the last two which have powertrains from Tesla. The BMW i3 with the range extender posts fuel economy just below Tesla and above the B-Class BEV.)

Fuel economy and range for BEVs (as well as the BMW i3 with range extender, which performs better than some BEVs). The first number in the data labels is mpge, the second, alternative fuel range. Again, with the exception of the i3 REX, this is the full range of the vehicle. Data: EPA. Click to enlarge.

The impact of AFVs on overall manufacturer numbers is still relatively small, and does not change the manufacturer rankings, for either adjusted fuel economy or adjusted CO2 emissions… This report will continue to track alternative fuel vehicles and may show more analysis including alternative fuel vehicles in future reports. This will be especially important if sales of alternative fuel vehicles continue to increase at the rapid rate of the last three years.

—EPA Trends report




It is just a question of time before:

1. Improved batteries and BEVs flood the market.

2. REs start to replace fossil fuel power plants.

The post 2020 era will see major changes in the fleet composition, fossil fuel consumption and GHG emission from vehicles.


I would not bet on that battery breakthrough real soon, Tesla does not seem concerned at all. I would say FFV hybrids running cellulose E85 is the way to go. Make the 15% gasoline from bio synthetic cellulose and you are there.


Sooner or latter we will have to stop burning fuels for vehicles, tools, machinery, power plants, heating, cooking etc.

Current 1B ICEVs (and rising) and CPPs, NGPPs will pollute the atmosphere, lakes, rivers and oceans beyond acceptable level.


I am all for reducing combustion, what is why I favor reforming methanol, ethanol, gasoline or diesel on the car and using a fuel cell.

We will have internal combustion for at least the next 30 years all over the planet, that is a safe prediction. NO WAY are you going to convert ONE BILLION engine vehicles to EV in that time.

Nick Lyons


Sadly, the use of fossil fuels is growing, not shrinking. Renewable energy (wind, solar) is too expensive and unreliable for new generation in the Third World, which is where the big increases in power generation are happening--mostly via new coal-fired power plants. If you look at the big picture, the global picture, you will see that there is more coal, oil and natural gas in the ground than we can afford to burn. But we, as a species, don't seem to have any serious plan to slow down consumption.

Cheap, carbon-free nuclear power is the only technology that has a chance to persuade us to keep those hydrocarbons in the ground.


Molten salt fast breeder reactors will use the 700,000 tons of deplete uranium as fuel while producing no long term waste problems. We have enough depleted uranium to power the U.S. for hundreds of years.

The scientist who invented and developed the light water reactor was also the one who invented and developed the molten salt reactor. He told the U.S. government that the light water reactor was inherently unsafe...they fired him.


The BEV makes the most sense from any POV and it will replace the ICE in time. What you read and hear from critics is based on biases for ICE cars and the capitalistic system we have that places monetary consideration as the top parameter, well above the health and welfare of the American and the World's people.

The way to make the transition to mass BEVs is to work within the capitalistic system and offer BEVs that are fairly-priced and truly meet the needs of the people; so far that hasn't occurred and I'm afraid that won't happen until a company like Tesla can build the car. I though Nissan had a march on everyone; but, they chose to count beans, to march in place and use PR instead of engineering innovation to advance EV sales. History will prove they made a very bad mistake by not "going all in."


GE-Hitachi have the PRISM reactor that is sodium cooled, uses waste uranium and plutonium and can power the U.K. for 500 years just from waste without producing long term radioactivity.

Britain has lots of plutonium from reprocessing fuel rods over the decades, they debate what to do with that plutonium. The U.K. may install two PRISM reactors soon and we may also at Savannah River. This has been a viable option for 50 years, but Hyman Rickover the naval commander in charge of civilian reactors said no.

Bob Wallace

SJC - will the resulting electricity be cheap enough to afford?

If so, where do the cost cuts come from compared to a reactor like is being built in Georgia where the price will be $0.11/kWh or higher?


When you use waste for fuel, you have a chance to reduce costs. Uranium U235 can only go up in price over time, creating more light water reactors builds in that price increase.

Bob Wallace

The cost of fuel is insignificant for a nuclear reactor.

"The average fuel cost at a nuclear power plant in 2013 was 0.79 cents / kWh." NEI That's the nuclear energy industry reporting.

Fuel could be free and the cost of electricity from a new reactor would still be well over $0.10/kWh. And that's simply not competitive. If fuel cost were an issue the industry would have moved to thorium.


You have to replace fuel in light water reactors every two years. PRISM is every six years and traveling wave every 20. There are more costs than plant and fuel, but you seem to think you have the whole picture and your opinion is the only relevant one.

Bob Wallace

No, I don't think I have the full picture which is why I asked you to explain the route to affordable nuclear. So far what I hear said is:

1. Build new type reactor.
6. Nuclear electricity becomes cheap enough to compete.

I want you to fill in the missing steps of how nuclear gets from >$0.11/kWh to ~0.05/kWh. If you can adequately do that then I'll have some more of the picture.

I'm pretty sure cost of fuel is not the answer. And if by not having to refuel for 20 years meant an almost 100% CF that wouldn't do it. Moving from 90% CF to 100% CF would drop the price only a penny or so.


Uranium U235 actually can only go *down* in price. Raw uranium is only a portion of fuel cost - there's also fabrication and enrichment.

SILEX laser enrichment makes it so the cost of "regular" fuel bundles can only go *down* for light water reactors.

Uranium is so cheap right now the new SILEX plant is on hold.

Fresh uranium will remain cheap for basically forever because the fabrication and enrichment technology improvements always exceed any increase in raw uranium cost.

And raw uranium cost isn't going up. Its going down.

The world spends only a few million dollars a year on uranium prospecting yet we keep finding enormous quantities of it that are economic to mine/process/leach.


I never said "affordable nuclear" you are the one going on about that. Nuclear is about the same cost as coal.

Now you will have a stable fuel price, uranium went from $20 per pound to $113 per pound back down to $59 per pound from 2005-2010. With waste plutonium and depleted uranium the cost is known.

I want to use up the depleted uranium and plutonium. We can power this country without importing any more uranium, we import 85%. You can talk about "energy independence" but as long as we import oil and uranium we are NOT.


This source imputes a carbon price (whose source is the EIA LCOE cost projections)

Original source

"a 3-percentage point increase in the cost of capital is added when evaluating investments in greenhouse gas (GHG) intensive technologies like coal-fired power and coal-to-liquids (CTL) plants without carbon control and sequestration (CCS). While the 3-percentage point adjustment is somewhat arbitrary, in levelized cost terms its impact is similar to that of a $15 per metric ton of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions fee. ... As a result, the levelized capital costs of coal-fired plants without CCS are higher than would otherwise be expected."[13]

It further imputes a $7 mmBTU price of natural gas, when prices are about half that. So not only did the natural gas capital cost get shoved upwards, the fuel price is too high.

On top of that, advanced nuclear quotes are coming in at 13 cents per kilowatt-hour. Higher than this projection.

Real world quote at 13 cents per kilowatt-hour

Germany's newest Hamburg/Moorburg coal plant was $2.5 per nameplate watt (45% of nuclear) and has a 46.5% thermal efficiency and can cleanly burn cheap lignite coal. Its cost is much less than nuclear.

Even if nuclear can match new coal plants (and an AP1000 cannot right now) its irrelevant as natural gas is at around 5 cents per kilowatt-hour, and where wind and solar is ideally sited (e.g. Texas) the levelized cost is 7 cents per kilowatt-hour, *without* subsidy.

A $50 per tonne carbon price only adds 2 cents per kilowatt-hour to natural gas LCOE. And at that carbon price, you could force coal out and offset the entire rest of the worlds emissions with planting projects.

So until nuclear is within 2 cents per kilowatt-hour of natural gas, it is too expensive to be a solution right now in the USA.


PRISM emits NO carbon, uses waste and produces small amounts of short lived products. If you want to reduce carbon emissions, this is one way.


Making and distributing clean electricity for 1+B BEVs is not a major challenge (in most places). Lower cost REs are around the corner and the per kWh cost is going down every year.

Of course, nuclear (at $0.16/kWh and rising) is also a clean, almost limitless solution for countries with a lot of $$$$$.

Reducing battery price by 5X (to under $100/kWh at the pack level) and increasing their energy storage density by 5X (to between 600 Wh/Kg and 1,000 Wh/Kg at the pack level) may need more time and efforts. The first 50% step may be around by 2020 or so.


An acquaintance living in NY City says that they are paying $0.32/kWh for electricity. That's almost 5 times what we pay.

Why local enterpreneurs do not built half a dozen Nuke Plants nearby?. They could make a fortune?

Alternatively, the same enterpreneurs could buy clean electricity fronm New Found Land and Québec and rake it ($$$)in every day.


The last suggestion may not please the local and national climato-septics.

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