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Efficiency Gains in US Auto Sales continues Trend

Fuel economy is more than a catchphrase. It means a reduction in resources consumed while consumers benefit from lower expenses when fueling up their vehicles, not to mention reduced air pollution through a decline in carbon dioxide emissions. In the United States, automobile sales show a surefooted upward bend in better vehicle fuel mileage, with government regulation to ensure the trend continues through at least 2025.

In an annual report, Light-Duty Automotive Technology, Carbon Dioxide Emissions, and Fuel Economy Trends: 1975 Through 2012, released in March the US Environmental Protection Agency said miles per gallon for light duty cars and trucks sold in the US during 2012 increased 1.4 mpg from 2011 to 23.8 mpg. It was the largest one-year improvement in vehicle efficiency since the EPA began reporting the data while the agency estimated a 16% gain in better mpg readings for new vehicle sales since 2007.

Sales-weighted fuel economics from the Department of Energy show car sales running about 9 mpg above the overall average, while the US car population as of 2010 had nearly reached 23 mpg, climbing 5% in efficiency from 2010 and 44% from 1980.

EPA added since 2007, US consumers have double the amount of choices in hybrid and diesel vehicles from which to buy, while the number of car models with combined city and highway fuel economy of 30 mpg jumped six-fold. When compared with a rising average age for US vehicles at nearly 11 years as of 2011 per DOE, up from roughly 8.4 years in 1995, the US car population is poised to see an upward jolt in greater road transportation efficiency as older vehicles are retired.

Considering the transportation sector accounts for nearly 30% of all energy consumed in the US, second to electric power, improving fuel economy standards go a long way in the country’s sustainability strategy by cutting the country’s overall energy demand. Moreover, in a strategy to improve energy sustainability and reliability the US is looking to lock in that trend with its Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards, with the Obama administration in July 2011 announcing an agreement with auto manufacturers to hike fuel economy to 54.5 mpg by 2025, up from 30.5 mpg this year. The Energy Information Administration estimates the stricter standards would reduce gasoline consumption by 500,000 bpd in 2025 and by 1.0 million bpd by 2035.


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