Fuel Economy

Technical Report Highlights Auto Industry’s Success Meeting Fuel Economy and GHG Standards

By Janet McCabe and Dr. Mark Rosekind, Administrator, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

In 2010, the Obama Administration took a historic step to reduce our dependence on foreign oil and decrease carbon pollution by putting in place fuel economy standards and greenhouse gas standards for cars and light trucks for model years 2012 through 2016.  A second round of standards finalized in 2012, expanded the program through Model Year 2025.  These standards – what we call the National Program – are already making a big impact: reducing carbon pollution from the atmosphere while saving consumers money at the pump.

The auto industry has responded to the program with continual innovation – showing that a common sense approach to regulation that provides lots of flexibility can help drive American ingenuity. We are seeing fuel efficiency technologies enter the market faster than nearly anyone anticipated. In fact, auto manufacturers over-complied with the standards for each of the first three years of the National Program. All of this has taken place during a period of record vehicle sales.

The National Program reaches out nearly a decade into the future – to 2025. When the Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) and the Department of Transportation (DOT) developed the program, we agreed to do a “mid-term evaluation” to assess the standards for the 2022-2025 model years (MY).  We said back in 2012 that the mid-term evaluation would be a rigorous assessment of these standards, and would look at the best available data on emission control and fuel economy-improving technologies, costs, market developments, and other factors.

Today, we took the first step in that process. EPA, DOT, and California’s Air Resources Board (CARB) jointly put out an in-depth draft Technical Assessment Report (TAR). This comprehensive and robust report, informed by extensive stakeholder outreach and substantial technical work by the three agencies over the past several years, will inform EPA’s future determination on whether the standards are appropriate for MY 2022-2025 and NHTSA’s future rulemaking for those years. The report itself is not a rulemaking or decision document and does not change any of the existing legal requirements under the existing National Program—but it shows how much progress has already been made.

Here are some highlights:

Automakers are innovating in a time of record sales and fuel economy levels.  We are seeing technologies that reduce emissions and improve fuel economy entering the fleet at faster rates than originally expected.  These technologies include turbo charging, engine downsizing, more sophisticated transmissions, vehicle weight reduction, aerodynamics and idle stop-start, along with improved accessories and air conditioning systems.  Vehicle sales are strong (six straight years of increasing sales through 2015 for the first time since the 1920s, leading to an all-time high in 2015), and the auto firms overall are over-complying with the standards. Every single vehicle category, from subcompacts to pickup trucks, offers cleaner choices for consumers.

Manufacturers can meet the standards at similar or even a lower cost than we had anticipated in the 2012 rulemaking. Automakers have a wide range of technology pathways to choose from, but the TAR shows that manufacturers can meet the current standards for MY 2022-2025 primarily with conventional gasoline vehicles that use internal combustion engines with well-understood technologies.  This finding is consistent with what the National Academy of Sciences found in a comprehensive 2015 study.

Many manufacturers are meeting future standards with today’s vehicles. There are many vehicles – from many manufacturers – meeting future standards several years ahead of schedule.  In fact, there are over 100 car, SUV and pick-up truck versions on the market today that already meet 2020 or later standards.

The National Program is designed to enable consumers to choose the vehicle they want, from compact cars to larger trucks suitable for carrying and towing heavy loads, while helping owners enjoy improved fuel economy with a reduced environmental footprint. Rather than setting a single fuel economy target number for all vehicles, the National Program establishes separate standards for passenger cars and light trucks, with standards for trucks being generally less stringent than the standards for cars.  This approach protects consumer choice, and at the same time, it improves efficiency and emissions for all types of vehicles.  Even with lower than expected gas prices, which has resulted in a shift in consumer choice, the draft report shows that the standards mean more fuel efficient options no matter type or size vehicles consumers choose to buy.

Today’s report demonstrates that the program is working – reducing oil consumption and protecting the environment while saving consumers money. We are taking comment on the report and look forward to hearing from all interested stakeholders.

More information on the midterm evaluation, including the new report, can be found at https://www3.epa.gov/otaq/climate/mte.htm and http://www.nhtsa.gov/fuel-economy.

Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations.

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Driving toward a cleaner future

Today, EPA issued its second annual Manufacturer Performance Report on progress toward meeting the greenhouse gas emissions standards for cars and light trucks. This is essentially a detailed report card telling us how the industry and individual manufacturers are doing in complying with the standards for the 2013 model year. I’m pleased to say that, for the second year of the program, the auto industry is ahead of the curve.

Because the ultimate destination for this road trip is to nearly double fuel economy by 2025, a strong start is great news for the environment and public health, family budgets and America’s energy security. When EPA and the Department of Transportation announced the standards, the program was called a “Win-Win-Win.” A win for the environment and our health because it reduces the emissions that contribute to the greatest environmental threat of our time…. climate change. In fact we expect it to cut 6 billion metric tons of GHGs. A win for consumers because the fuel efficiency goals will save families money at the pump, adding up to more than $1.7 trillion in saved fuel costs over the life of the program. And finally, a win for energy independence. The policy is expected to reduce America’s dependence on oil by more than 2 million barrels per day by 2025.

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Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations.

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Today’s historic Clean Air Act settlement keeps key climate change effort on track

By Cynthia Giles

Our rules to combat climate change – like all environmental protection rules – only work when they are implemented in the real world. Today, we are delivering on our commitment to make sure that happens, through a settlement with the automakers Hyundai and Kia who sold more than 1 million vehicles that will emit close to 5 million more metric tons of GHGs than what they had certified to us.

Hyundai and Kia will forfeit 4.75 million GHG emission credits that they can no longer use to comply with the law, or sell to other automakers. That’s 4.75 million metric tons of greenhouse gases that could have been emitted if we hadn’t taken this action, equal to the emissions that come from powering more than 433,000 homes for one year.

They will also pay a $100 million penalty, the largest in Clean Air Act history. The size of this penalty demonstrates how significant these violations are, and reinforces our commitment to level the playing field for automakers that play by the rules. Hyundai and Kia will also spend millions of dollars on a series of steps—including improved vehicle testing protocols—to prevent future Clean Air Act violations.

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Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations.

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CAFE Standards

The Road to Fuel EfficiencyBy Adriana Lenarczyk

Second in a five-part series on climate change issues.

Happy Climate Week, everybody!

So, I was standing on the subway on my way to work (chances are you don’t get to sit down on your crowded morning commute from Bushwick, Brooklyn) and as I stood squished between a businessman and a street punk, I found myself missing the privacy and freedom of my car back in Portland, OR. Steel-grey 2009 Jetta, heated seats (!), the incredible amount of trunk space, and 27 miles to the gallon (which was pretty good back then).

And that got me thinking of sky-high gas prices in New York City. Which got me thinking about my boyfriend’s gas-guzzling SUV that got 15 mpg. Which made me cringe at the thought of the cost of gas for our backpacking trip to Vermont this weekend. Which made me wonder:

Why don’t we just trade these enormous hunks of steel for smaller, more fuel-efficient cars? I mean, are people buying them? Wait, no, are car manufacturers actually producing more fuel-efficient vehicles??

And just then, I learned about CAFE standards—

CAFE, or Corporate Average Fuel Economy, are regulations that were first enacted by Congress in 1975, intending to improve the average fuel economy of cars and “light trucks” (i.e. trucks, vans, and SUVs) sold in the United States.

In 2009, President Obama proposed a new national fuel economy program which adopts federal standards to regulate both fuel economy and greenhouse gas emissions. The program covers years 2012 to 2016, and ultimately requires an average fuel economy standard of 35.5 miles per gallon in 2016 (39 mpg for cars and 30 mpg for trucks), which is a pretty decent jump from the current average of 29 mpg. The result of all this is a projected reduction in oil consumption of about 1.8 billion barrels over the life of the program and a projected total reduction in greenhouse gas emissions of approximately 900 million metric tons.

So if you’re thinking of buying a new car consider an electric vehicle. The U.S. government offers a $7,500 federal tax credit with the purchase of a new Tesla acquired for personal use. In Southern California, where my parents live, electric vehicle purchasers are eligible for a rebate up to $2,500 from the Clean Vehicle Rebate Project (CVRP) until funds are exhausted. Currently there are no state incentives for New York, but things may change.

More information on EPA Fuel Economy can be found at: http://www.fueleconomy.gov/

To read the entire proposed rule for carbon pollution emission guidelines, please visit: https://www.federalregister.gov/articles/2014/06/18/2014-13726/carbon-pollution-emission-guidelines-for-existing-stationary-sources-electric-utility-generating#h-13

About the Author: Adriana Lenarczyk wrote this as an intern in EPA’s Region 2 Public Affairs Division. Adriana is originally from the West Coast.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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Earth Day and the President’s Climate Action Plan

The arrival of Earth Day is the perfect opportunity to reflect on the work EPA does to protect the health of Americans and the environment. Early last summer, the President announced his Climate Action Plan calling on the federal government to work together with states, tribes, cities, industries, consumers and the international community to address one of the greatest challenges of our time.

Over the past year, one of our top priorities has been addressing our changing climate, so let me fill you in on our progress so far on the many important steps we are taking to cut harmful greenhouse gas pollution.

Power Plants – Last September, EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy signed the proposed Carbon Pollution Standards for New Power Plants .  Based on current trends in the power sector and available pollution control technology, the proposal will protect public health and address climate change while ensuring reliable, affordable, and clean power for American businesses and families. It will also ensure that power companies investing in new fossil fuel-fired power plants – which often operate for more than 40 years – will use technologies that limit emissions of harmful carbon pollution. The agency is now taking public comment on the proposal until May 9. More

Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations.

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Earth Month Tip: Check your tire pressure

You can improve your gas mileage by up to 3.3% by keeping your tires inflated to the proper pressure. Under-inflation increases tire wear, reduces your fuel economy, and leads to higher carbon pollution emissions. Properly inflated tires are safer and last longer.
Check your tire pressure regularly. If you don’t know the correct tire pressure for your vehicle, you can find it listed on the door to your vehicle’s glove compartment, or on the driver’s-side door pillar. Do not use the maximum pressure printed on the tire’s sidewall. When it’s time for new tires, consider purchasing tires with “low rolling resistance,” an energy-saving feature.

Learn more tips to improve your fuel economy: http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/driveHabits.jsp
More tips: http://www.epa.gov/earthday/actonclimate/

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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Earth Month Tip: Drive Smart

A series of daily tips throughout April.

To improve your fuel economy and reduce carbon pollution, go easy on the brakes and gas pedal, avoid hard accelerations, reduce your time spent idling (no more than 30 seconds), and unload unnecessary items in your trunk to reduce weight. If you have a removable roof rack that is not in use, take it off to improve your fuel economy. Use cruise control if you have it, and for vehicles with selectable four-wheel drive, consider operating in two-wheel drive mode when road conditions make it safe to do so.

For more information, take a look at these tips for driving more efficiently. Check out www.fueleconomy.gov, to find the best, most comprehensive information on vehicle emissions and fuel economy.

More tips: http://www.epa.gov/earthday/actonclimate/

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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Choosing A New Car For A Longer Commute

By Lina Younes

My son started a new job recently. While we’re all very excited about his new job opportunity, there’s a drawback. The new job entails a longer commute. Therefore, my son is seriously considering buying a more fuel efficient car to make the long commute less painful at the pump.

While he has some preferred models in mind, I recommended that he do his homework before even venturing into a car showroom. I told him about EPA’s new Fuel Economy Guide for 2014 which has the fuel estimates for over one thousand vehicles. With this online guide, he’ll be able to compare which models have the best fuel efficiency according to his driving habits and commute. He’ll be able to plug in the information according to the type of car he’s looking for, if he drives in city traffic or on highways, etc. He can even compare the vehicles according to price range. Furthermore, he can see which cars are better for the environment given the green rating they’ve received due to the amount of green house gases they emit. The guide even provides data for hybrid and alternative fuel vehicles.

In fact, the fuel economy website includes the MPG ratings for both new and used cars. So you’ll have the information readily at hand to make the best choice for your pocket and the environment, even if you choose an older model. Make your own EPA’s new MPG label on used cars.

As a mom, I feel that I wouldn’t be doing my job well if I didn’t mention another good site that he should visit before buying a new vehicle. It’s www.safercar.gov which provides safety ratings for vehicles. Not only do I want him to save his hard earned money, but I also want him to be safe.

Are you considering purchasing a new or used vehicle? Do you want to calculate your fuel savings? Check out this tool  and tell us what you think.

 About the author:  Lina Younes has been working for EPA since 2002 and currently serves the Multilingual Communications Liaison for EPA. She manages EPA’s social media efforts in Spanish. Prior to joining EPA, she was the Washington bureau chief for two Puerto Rican newspapers and she has worked for several government agencies.

 

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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The First 100 Days

Wow, does time fly. It’s already been 100 days since I took the oath of office as EPA Administrator and I couldn’t be more proud of the incredible progress our team has made in such a short time, including proposing commonsense carbon pollution standards under President Obama’s Climate Action Plan.

Each day my goal is to make EPA’s work relevant and important to every community in the United States. Whether it’s listening to farmers in Iowa, meeting with tribal communities in Alaska, or engaging eager college students in Colorado, there is one constant across all of these communities: everyone wants to ensure that their kids are healthy, that their communities are safe and their economies strong.

As we move forward, EPA will continue working with states, local communities and tribes to focus on the things that really matter to people – from cleaning up Superfund sites to modernizing our water infrastructure to addressing one of our nation’s greatest challenges: climate change.

A special thanks to our great team at EPA whose hard work and dedication make a difference each and every day. Take a look at just some of what we’ve made possible in the past 100 days:

  1. We proposed carbon pollution standards for new power plants
  2. We’re addressing environmental justice issues nationwide
  3. We strengthened EPA’s chemical assessment process
  4. We’re modernizing Clean Water Act reporting
  5. We’re initiating efforts to update fuel-economy labeling procedures
  6. We’re encouraging sustainable technology development for small businesses
  7. We expanded citizen access to scientific information on chemicals

A fact sheet outlining our work in more detail is available here.

Time does fly, and although we’ve been able to accomplish a lot in 100 days – we know there’s much more to do.  And I’m excited to see what we can accomplish together.

Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations.

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Click and Print– New Labels for Used Vehicles

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The test of a good idea is if you hear yourself saying – “Why didn’t I think of that?”  The new fuel economy and emission labels for used cars and trucks just announced by EPA and the Department of Energy pass that test.

When you consider that buying a car is the second biggest purchase most people make and that used cars outsell new cars by a ratio of roughly 3 to 1 – it’s an idea whose time has come. Fuel economy has always been of interest to consumers, but it is becoming increasingly important now that there is such a range of fuel efficient cars available and car buyers are thinking more about their environmental footprint.

If you want to save money by buying a used car, wouldn’t you also want to know what it’s likely going to cost you at the pump?

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Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations.

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