Automakers on Track

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a Manufacturers Performance Report that assesses the automobile industry’s progress toward meeting greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions standards for cars and light trucks in the 2012 model year – the first year of this 14-year program. The report reveals that consumers bought cleaner vehicles in the first year of the program than the 2012 GHG standard required, and that automakers are off to a good start in meeting program requirements.

“EPA’s greenhouse gas standards for light duty cars and trucks are already reducing the dangerous carbon emissions that contribute to climate change while saving consumers money at the pump, and strengthening our nation’s energy security by relying less on foreign oil,” said EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy. “Our first official glimpse at how the auto companies are doing shows that they are rising to the challenge of meeting these standards, and realizing these benefits for our families and our country.”

The data shows that in model year 2012, the industry reduced tailpipe carbon dioxide emissions, and also used the optional flexibilities built into the standards. Those flexibilities include emissions credits for improvements in air conditioning systems, and a system that allows transfer of emissions credits from year to year, and among manufacturers. These flexibilities allow greater emissions reductions, lower compliance costs, and more consumer choice, all while providing manufacturers with options on how and when to make reductions.

Because of the program’s multi-year structure, EPA will not make formal compliance determinations for the 2012 model year until 2015. EPA will be closely tracking progress toward compliance, and intends to issue annual Manufacturers Performance Reports on the program.

According to EPA’s most recent Fuel Economy Trends Report, fuel economy improved by 1.2 mpg in 2012 compared to 2011, the second biggest improvement in the last 30 years. Further, in 2013 there were twice as many sport utility vehicle models that achieved at least 25 miles per gallon (mpg), and seven times as many car models that achieved 40 mpg or more, compared to just five years ago.

The GHG emission standards are projected to cut six billion metric tons of greenhouse gases over the lifetimes of vehicles sold in model years 2012-2025 – more than the total amount of carbon dioxide emitted by the United States in 2012. The standards are also projected to save consumers who purchase a new model year 2025 vehicle more than $8,000 in fuel costs over that vehicle’s lifetime.

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