EPA: Automakers Rising to the Challenge of Meeting Economy, Emissions Standards | Edmunds

EPA: Automakers Rising to the Challenge of Meeting Economy, Emissions Standards


Just the Facts:
  • A new report from the EPA shows that cars and light trucks from the 2012 model year met or exceeded federal standards for fuel economy and greenhouse gas emissions.
  • The EPA says 2012 vehicles averaged 23.6 mpg, 1.2 mpg better than the 2011 model year, and project a further 0.4 mpg increase in fuel economy for 2013.
  • According to the report, the average reduction in greenhouse gas emissions for 2012 model vehicles was 9.8 grams per mile below government standards.

WASHINGTON — A new report from the Environmental Protection Agency shows that cars and light trucks from the 2012 model year met or exceeded federal standards for fuel economy and greenhouse gas emissions.

The latest EPA data shows that 2012 vehicles averaged 23.6 mpg, 1.2 mpg better than the 2011 model year. And preliminary data for 2013 project a further 0.4 mpg increase in fuel economy.

The EPA notes that in 2013, compared to five years ago, there were twice as many SUV models that delivered at least 25 mpg and seven times as many car models at the 40 mpg mark or better.

Federal Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards require increases in fuel economy for cars and light trucks to 35.5 mpg by 2016 and 54.5 mpg by 2025.

Although an official determination of compliance with emissions regulations won't be made until 2015 for vehicles built in 2012 — the first year of a 14-year program — the EPA report says manufacturers have made "a good start" in meeting the latest requirements.

"EPA's greenhouse gas standards for light duty cars and trucks are already reducing the dangerous carbon emissions that contribute to climate change while saving consumers money at the pump, and strengthening our nation's energy security by relying less on foreign oil," said EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy in a statement. "Our first official glimpse at how the auto companies are doing shows that they are rising to the challenge of meeting these standards, and realizing these benefits for our families and our country."

According to the report, the performance of individual manufacturers varied, but on average the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions for 2012 model vehicles was 9.8 grams per mile below the standard set by the government.

Some manufacturers met or exceeded the standards solely by reducing tailpipe emissions, while others utilized a system of federally authorized "credits" that are granted for engineering advancements in previous years. The two most common methods for earning credits so far have been sales of flexible-fuel vehicles and improvements in air-conditioning systems, such as increased efficiency and reduced leakage.

Manufacturers can also purchase credits from each other and apply them to their own averages. Some, including Chrysler, Ferrari and Mercedes-Benz, took advantage of that option. Honda, Nissan and Tesla were among those automakers who sold credits.

Removing credits from the equation altogether, the fleet-wide average for greenhouse gas emissions was actually one gram per mile over the EPA standard. Nevertheless, 2012-model vehicles produced fewer emissions, on average, than those made in 2011, even without the addition of credits.

Edmunds says: So far, so good.

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