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EPA trends report finds MY 2021 fuel economy remained flat at a record high while CO2 levels hit new low

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released its annual Automotive Trends Report, which shows that model year (MY) 2021 vehicle fuel economy remained at a record high—but flat with MY 2020 fuel economy—while CO2 emission levels reached a new record low. The report also shows all 14 large automotive manufacturers achieved compliance with the Light-duty Greenhouse Gas (GHG) standards through at least MY2020.


Estimated real-world fuel economy and CO2 emissions. Source: EPA

Highlights of the report:

  • For MY 2021, vehicle fuel economy remained at an all-time high of 25.4 miles per gallon (mpg), and new vehicle real-world CO2 emissions fell by 2 g/mi to a record low of 347 grams per mile (g/mi).

  • All vehicle types are at record low CO2 emissions; however, the market shift away from cars and towards sport utility vehicles and pickups has offset some of the fleetwide benefits.

  • Since MY 2004, average fuel economy in the US has increased by 32%, or 6.1 mpg.

  • The average estimated real-world CO2 emission rate for all new vehicles fell by 2 g/mi to 347 g/mi.

  • Since MY 2004, CO2 emissions have decreased 25%, or by 114 g/mi. Over that time, CO2 emissions have been reduced in 14 of the past 17 years.

  • Preliminary data suggest that CO2 emissions and fuel economy in model year 2022 will improve from the levels achieved in 2021.

2022_F.0.3_w-footprint (002)

Percent change in real-world fuel economy, horsepower, weight, and footprint. Source: EPA

Overall, advancements in technology are helping industry reach these carbon reduction achievements. In model year 2021, hybrid vehicles reached a new high of 9% of all production. These vehicles can use a larger battery to recapture braking energy and provide power when necessary, allowing for a smaller, more efficiently operated engine.


Technology share for large manufacturers, MY 2021. SOurce: EPA

The combined category of electric vehicles (EVs), plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs), and fuel cell vehicles (FCVs) increased to 4% of nationwide production in MY 2021.



Is 25.4 mpg something to celebrate in 2021?

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