Science

New EPA report says US fuel economy was flat in 2021, emissions down slightly

Fuel economy for the 2021 model year in the US remained flat compared to 2020, according to an annual government report published Monday, as people continued to buy less-efficient trucks and SUVs.

The Environmental Protection Agency said in its annual Automotive Trends report that the fleet of new vehicles got 25.4 miles per gallon (10.8 kilometers per liter) for the model year, while greenhouse gas emissions dropped by 2 grams per mile to a record low of 347. Gone. The 2021 fuel economy figure ties with a record set in the 2020 model year.

The performance came under fuel economy and emissions standards that were relaxed when Donald Trump was president. Requirements will begin increasing at a higher rate in 2026 under the standards adopted by the Biden administration.

The EPA said in a statement that all types of vehicles are at record low carbon dioxide emissions, but “the market has shifted away from cars and toward sport utility vehicles and pickups, reducing some of the fleet’s benefits.”

The EPA said that in the 2021 model year, cars and station wagons, the most efficient vehicles, will fall to 26% of US new vehicle production, down from a recent 50% market share. SUVs accounted for a record 45% of new vehicle sales for the 2021 model year, while pickup trucks hit 16%.

The Stellantis, the former Fiat Chrysler, had the lowest fuel economy and the highest emissions of all manufacturers at 21.3 mpg (9.1 kilometers per liter) and 417 grams per mile of carbon dioxide. Tesla, which makes only electric vehicles, had the highest mileage of 121.5 mpg (51.7 kilometers per liter) and zero carbon dioxide emissions.

Nine manufacturers were above their EPA carbon dioxide emissions standard: BMW, Volkswagen, Kia, Nissan, Hyundai, General Motors, Mazda, Stellantis and Mercedes. Five were below their standards, meaning they emitted less than allowed: Tesla, Subaru, Ford, Honda and Toyota. Automakers could meet the standards with credits they earned or bought from other manufacturers.

The EPA stated that since the 2004 model year, average fuel economy in the US has increased by 6.1 miles per gallon (2.6 km/l), or 32%.

It said gas-electric hybrid production reached a new high of 9% of all vehicles in the 2021 model year. While electric, plug-in hybrid and fuel cell vehicles accounted for 4% of nationwide production.

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