Auto Fuel Economy Rises by 4.3 MPG in the Last Five Years

According to an October 2013 report completed by the University of Michigan’s Transportation Research Institute, entitled “A Comparison of CAFE Standards and Actual CAFE Performance of New Light-Duty Vehicles,” model year 2013 vehicles have an average fuel economy of 29.8 miles per gallon (mpg). This is an increase in vehicle efficiency of 4.3 mpg from model year 2008 vehicles, which have an average fuel economy of 25.5 mpg.

These findings are the result of recent increased fuel efficiency regulations targeted at reducing greenhouse gas emissions. In 2010, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHSTA) promulgated a “current standard” for 2012 through 2016 model year vehicles. Subsequently in 2012, the EPA and the NHSTA announced the “new standard” governing new vehicle fuel economy for model years 2017 through 2025. This “new standard” maintains the current system of incremental increases in Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) requirements for new light-duty vehicles (cars, vans, SUVs, and pickup trucks) for each model year, based on targeted decreases which average approximately 5 percent per year in Carbon Dioxide output per mile. Based on the information available to date on the current standard, CAFE performance has somewhat exceeded the projected levels for 2012 and 2013 model year vehicles. If this trend continues, future CAFE performance is expected to potentially exceed the projected performance levels, which will result in the increased reduction of greenhouse gases beyond the standards set by the EPA and NHSTA.

Looking into the future, these CAFE standards are projected to require average vehicle performance levels of 35.5 mpg (250 grams/mile of Carbon Dioxide) by model year 2016 and 54.5 mpg (163 grams/mile of Carbon Dioxide) by model year 2025. The hope is that meeting and exceeding these achievements will result in simultaneously increasing fuel economy while substantially decreasing greenhouse gas emissions.

 By Seth J. Schriftman, Staff Attorney, Jenner & Block

Read more at Corporate Environmental Lawyer Blog by Jenner & Block LLP.

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