EVs and hybrids have had a noticeable effect on U.S. fuel economy, EPA says

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I like the idea of ​​ending the year with some good news for a change, and I think maybe the US Environmental Protection Agency does too. On Wednesday, Published by the EPA its Automotive Trends Report, which now includes data for 2022 model year vehicles.

And the data is good: record low carbon emissions and record high fuel consumption, and the biggest year-on-year improvement in almost a decade.

For MY2022, the EPA says real-world average CO2 emissions for all new vehicles fell by 10g/mile to 337g/mile, the lowest average ever measured. Similarly, real-world fuel economy for 2022 is up 0.6mpg to 26mpg – again a record and the biggest year-on-year improvement for either CO.2 and mpg for nine years.

And it’s not a one-off. Despite the occasional off year, EPA data shows that since 2004, US passenger fleet emissions have fallen by 27 percent, or 123 g/mile. And over the same time, average fuel economy increased by 35 percent, or 6.7 mpg. Even better, the EPA says its preliminary figures show an even bigger drop in carbon emissions and a bigger increase in fuel efficiency for MY2023.

The report divides light passenger vehicles into five groups: sedan/station wagon, SUV car (aka crossover), cargo SUV, pick-up and minivan/van. (The difference between a car SUV and a cargo SUV is a regulatory definition that includes weight thresholds and things like “does it have all-wheel drive?”.)

Even more good news: in MY2022, four of the five categories are now the most efficient since the EPA started tracking this sort of thing. Sedans and wagons saw emissions cut by 11g/mile for 2022. SUVs reduced their emissions by 27g/mile in the same model year. Pickups saw an 18g/mile drop and SUV trucks improved 4g/mile.

Bad news for minivans, however. Not only are there barely any left for sale – representing just 3 per cent of new vehicles built for MY2022 – the category has also seen average emissions rise by 17g/mile.

But I’m also not thrilled that 63 percent of all new vehicles built in MY2022 were SUVs, pickups, and minivans/vans, which are subject to the company’s less stringent average fuel economy standards than the stricter light commercial vehicles. regulations. The EPA says this is the highest percentage of trucks since 1975 and will only get worse for the 2023 model year.

All you readers rushing to post this “Not Just Bikes” video, make it known now. Because despite record-best real-world fuel economy, 2022 model year vehicles are bigger and heavier than ever.

Part of the increase in size and weight is due to improved passive and active safety systems – crumple zones, side impact protection, better rollover protection and, in some cases, nearly a dozen airbags throughout the cabin. But some of the growth in size and much of the increase in performance is due to what the EPA calls “trends” — that’s what American customers want from their new vehicles, whether they like it or not. And the bad news is that the EPA doesn’t see these trends changing for the 2023 model year.

Who did best, who did worst?

The EPA report also calculates trends for each OEM over the past few years, so we can see who is improving and who is getting worse.

I often rave about the build and quality of new Korean vehicles, and there’s another figure in their favor: they lead in fleet average efficiency (29.1mpg) and carbon emissions (302g/mile), though of course brands like Tesla and Rivian, which do not sell any internal combustion engines have fleet emissions of 0g/mile.

Kia also posted big gains from 2017-2022, ranking third behind Honda, which has become dirtier and less efficient over the same time period.

The Toyota showed the biggest improvement over time, reducing carbon emissions by 32g/mile and increasing fuel economy from 25.3mpg to 27.8mpg. Meanwhile, Mazda took a different route. It now sells many more large SUVs than before, from 29 mpg for 2017 to 27 mpg for 2022.