EPA: Car and Truck Efficiency Sets a New Record

Ford EcoBoost

Auto manufacturers have invested a great deal and gone to great lengths to ensure compliance with increasingly stringent government regulations as far as fuel economy and efficiency are concerned (take the Aston Martin Cygnet, for example), but at least here in the United States, those measures appear to be working.

According to a recently released report from Environmental Protection Agency, the average mile-per-gallon rating of new cars sold in 2012 came to 23.6, a record since the statistics were first recorded in 1975. Further, the report indicates that if 2013 puts on similar gains, the market could make the 54.5 mile per gallon target in 2025 with relative ease.

Further, average emissions fell, too. “The final model year (or MY) 2012 adjusted, real world CO2 emissions rate is 376 [grams of carbon dioxide per mile], which is a 22 [gram per mile] decrease relative to MY 2011,” the EPA’s press statement says. “MY 2012 adjusted fuel economy is 23.6 [miles per gallon], which is 1.2 [miles per gallon] higher than MY 2011.”

This means that America’s average fuel figures have seen improvements for seven out of the last eight years, the EPA reports. The upswing has helped to turn around a long negative trend from MY 1987 through MY 2004, the agency adds.

Interestingly, nearly every company had higher fuel economy in 2012, with Mazda leading the charge with an average of 27.1 miles per gallon — likely helped by its lack of a pickup truck offering and lower volume sales of its larger SUV, the CX-9. Honda followed with 26.6 miles, VW placed third with 25.8, with Toyota (25.6) and Subaru (25.2) rounded out the top five.

Helping the numbers increase was the drop in market share for light trucks — SUVs, vans, crossovers, and pickups — as they only accounted for 36 percent of new car sales in 2012, down 6 percent over the year prior. Further, vehicles are being designed to save weight. Vehicles sold in 2012 were on average 150 pounds lighter (averaging 3,977 pounds) than those sold in 2011.

Additionally, technologies like stop-start are finding greater popularity, and larger displacements are being swapped out for fewer and smaller cylinders with forced induction. Diesels are becoming increasingly popular, too, as are hybrids and plug-ins, to an extent; “there were five times as many cars offering 30 [miles per gallon] and quadruple the number of cars offering 40 [miles per gallon] sold in 2012 over the previous year,” Autoblog points out.

While the results from 2013 likely won’t be released until closer to 2015, the EPA is anticipating an increase of 0.6 miles per gallon and a decrease of six grams per mile of carbon dioxide. Moreover, “about 5 percent of projected MY 2013 production could meet the MY 2025 CO2 emissions targets,” the EPA says.