Automakers reduce emissions, increase production


Courtesy of the EPA

Courtesy of the EPA

Automakers have reduced greenhouse gas emissions and improved fuel economy, despite increasing production of SUVs and crossover-utility vehicles, or CUVs, to record levels, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The agency’s 2016 CO2 and Fuel Economy Trends Report finds that fuel economy for 2015 vehicles has increased by 0.5 mpg to a record 24.8 mpg, with improvements in all five vehicle types. Since 2011, the year before the nationwide Greenhouse Gas and Fuel Economy standards went into effect, the agency says fuel economy has improved by 2.4 mpg, while carbon dioxide emissions per mile traveled have decreased by 10 percent.

“Car buyers can go to the showroom knowing that no matter what kind of vehicle they buy, it will be better for the climate — and their wallets — than ever before,” says Christopher Grundler, director of the EPA’s office of transportation and air quality. “This report highlights that the industry is providing vehicles that customers want, while reaching new levels of environmental performance.”

Six consecutive years of increasing auto sales numbers with a new record for sales in 2015 is an indicator that automakers are building the types of vehicles that consumers want to buy. SUVs had the largest increase in market share of any vehicle type for the 2015 model year, up 4 percent to 28 percent of all production, while CUVs represented 10 percent of the market share.

Still, both categories achieved record-high fuel economy (22 mpg for SUVs and 25.3 mpg for CUVs) and record low CO2 emissions. Pickup trucks experienced the largest improvement in fuel economy of any vehicle type for the 2015 model year, an increase of 0.8 mpg, making it the second-highest fuel economy for the category in recorded history. That’s second only to 1986, when pickups were much smaller and weighed less than today’s pickups.

Mazda had the lowest fleetwide average adjusted CO2 emissions and the highest adjusted fuel economy performance, followed closely by Honda, Nissan, Subaru and Hyundai.

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The EPA says that more than 100 cars currently on the market already meet the standards for 2020.

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Tara Baukus Mello writes the cars blog as well as the weekly Driving for Dollars column, providing both practical financial advice for consumers as well as insight into the latest developments in the automotive world. Follow her on Facebook here or on Twitter @SheDrives.