2019 EPA Report Shows Auto Industry Achieving Record High MPG and Record Low Emissions Despite Shift To Crossovers

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Americans are fleeing sedans for crossovers and pickups. Despite this shift, automakers are still setting new records for improved fuel economy and reduced emissions. 

Automakers Ahead Of Targets For Fuel Economy and CO2

In its latest report on fuel economy and emissions trends in the U.S., the EPA finds that automakers are setting records for fuel economy improvement and CO2 emission reduction. Since the first such EPA report in 1975, the overall fleet fuel economy average has doubled in America and CO2 emissions per mile driven have been cut in half.

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One interesting fact about the 1975 report and the one just released this march of 2019 is that the Honda brand had the best MPG rating overall in both years. Honda has also led the industry in more years than any other brand including in the projected results for the 2018 model year.

Toyota Dips – Prius Sales To Blame?

The newest EPA report has final data from model year 2017 and preliminary data for model year 2018 vehicles. Among all manufacturers, only Toyota saw a dip in its fleet’s MPG average. This could be due to the Prius hybrid’s slowing sales. Toyota’s Prius has significantly declined even further since 2017, but the world’s largest producer of green vehicles has multiple new green models since 2017 filling the gap the Prius has left in its green vehicle numbers. The new Corolla Hybrid and an improved fleet of hybrid crossovers will help to keep Toyota on track. It should be noted that among all manufacturers, Toyota leads the industry in available greenhouse gas credits and is a net seller of these credits. The credits are an EPA program to ensure that automakers cap and trade their greenhouse gas emissions and to boost EV sales. Toyota’s lead in greenhouse gas credits will come as no surprise to those who follow electric vehicle sales. In 2018, Toyota’s Prius Prime plug-in hybrid vehicle was America’s top-selling affordable electric vehicle and number two overall.

Crossovers Achieve Comparable Fuel Economy To Sedans Of Similar Capacities

It may be surprising, but crossovers with similar capacities to cars in terms of passenger volume do not always have a fuel economy penalty for their shape and higher ride heights. Here is a look at how the Ford EcoSport compares to the same-size passenger volume Ford Focus it is replacing in Ford’s lineup. As you can see, in 2WD configuration, the EcoSport has the same combined fuel efficiency as the Focus.

Another reason that crossovers will not be dragging down the fleet average fuel economy for manufacturers is that they are increasingly being made in green versions, including fully-electric, plug-in hybrid, and hybrid versions. Toyota’s RAV4 Hybrid, complete with standard AWD, outsells every large sedan model that Toyota and Lexus make. As larger sedans decline in popularity as family vehicles, new two-row crossovers with impressive fuel economy are replacing them. The overall mix is changing in ways that go beyond a simple description like “SUVs and trucks are what consumers want.”

EPA’s Conclusion & Forecast – MPG Gains and CO2 Reduction

The EPA’s new report concludes, “Along with the overall industry, most manufacturers have significantly improved new vehicle CO2 emissions and fuel economy in recent years.” The EPA says, “…the industry achieved record low new vehicle CO2 emissions and record high fuel economy…” and looking ahead, says, “The preliminary average estimated real-world fuel economy of all new model year 2018 vehicles is projected to increase again, to 25.4 mpg with corresponding average CO2 emissions of 348 g/mi. If achieved, these values will be record levels and an improvement over model year 2017. ”  Despite America’s shifting preference to crossovers and our continuing love for pickup trucks, automakers are continuing to make impressive gains in fuel economy and emissions reductions.

Read the full EPA report here. 

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John Goreham

John Goreham

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