In the last 20 years or so auto manufacturers have invested a huge amount of money into complying with government regulations that are becoming increasingly strict every year. The good news is that, at least here in the United States, fuel economy and efficiency are definitely on the rise while CO2 emissions are on the decline.
In fact, 2012 marked the best record ever for automobile efficiency as the average mile per gallon rating of new cars was over 23.6, the highest it’s been since 1975 when the EPA actually started recording such statistics. Their latest report indicates that, by 2025, the 54.5 mile per gallon target that’s been set should be met by most car manufacturers with relative ease.
Even better news is that emissions also fell in 2012. The adjusted final model year numbers for its CO2 emissions actually dropped 22g per mile while model year adjusted fuel economy rose 1.2 miles per gallon.
What this means is that in 7 out of the last 8 years the average fuel figures in America have improved and turned around a long-running negative trend that started in 1987 and went all the way through 2004.
The report states that every car manufacturing company had higher fuel economy, with Mazda leading the way at 27.1 miles per gallon. This was no doubt helped by the fact that Mazda sells fewer pickup trucks and SUVs then all other manufacturers. Honda came in second with 26.6, Volkswagen was third with 25.8 and Toyota came in fourth with 25.6. Rounding out the top five was Subaru at 25.2.
One of the reasons for the increase is definitely due to the market drop for light trucks including SUVs, vans, pickups and crossovers. In 2012 they only accounted for 36% percent of new car sales, a figure that dropped from 6% over the previous year. Further helping the increase was the fact that today’s newer vehicles are being designed to be lighter and, indeed, the average vehicle in 2012 was approximately 150 pounds lighter than in 2011.
Further helping the increase is new technology like “stop start” and the fact that smaller cylinder cars with forced induction are taking the place of larger displacement engines. Hybrids and plug-ins, to a small extent, are helping, as well as the fact that diesel engines are now becoming quite popular. In fact, in 2012 there were 5 times as many automobiles that offered 30 miles per gallon over 2011 and 4 times the amount that were offering 40 miles per gallon.
The results of efficiency testing from 2013 won’t be released until almost 2015 but still the EPA anticipates that there will be an increase in miles per gallon of .6 and an associated decrease of carbon dioxide per mile of 6g. For people who are looking to save money on gasoline as well as save the planet, this is excellent news and means that auto manufacturers are working harder than ever to not only meet their emissions goals but actually surpass them.