New US Vehicles Set Fuel Economy Record for 2022 as EV Sales Increase

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The United States witnessed a notable surge in fuel efficiency among new vehicles in 2022, reaching an unprecedented milestone. The data, released by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), revealed that the average fuel economy soared to 26 miles per gallon (mpg), marking the most substantial annual improvement in nine years.

This notable achievement was attributed, in large part, to the burgeoning sales of electric vehicles (EVs), which experienced a considerable uptick during the year. Despite this positive trend, the report underscored a persistent gap among automakers, with the Detroit Three—comprising Stellantis, General Motors, and Ford—lagging behind their competitors in terms of fuel efficiency.

The EPA Administrator, Michael Regan, hailed the report as a testament to the automotive industry’s historic progress in mitigating climate pollution and reducing harmful emissions. According to the EPA, the inclusion of electric vehicles and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles contributed to a 0.6 mpg increase over the previous year. The agency anticipates a further rise in fuel economy, projecting an average of 26.9 mpg for 2023.

A noteworthy aspect highlighted in the report was the trading of emissions credits among automakers. Tesla emerged as a significant player, selling additional emissions credits, while General Motors and Mercedes-Benz purchased credits to meet regulatory requirements. Stellantis, GM, and Ford ranked lower in fuel efficiency compared to Tesla, Hyundai, and Honda.

The report also shed light on shifting consumer preferences, as Americans continued to veer away from traditional cars in favor of SUVs. Sedans and wagons constituted only 27% of total vehicle sales in 2022, with SUVs claiming a majority share of 54%.

Despite the progress in electric vehicle adoption, Dave Cooke, a senior vehicles analyst at the Union of Concerned Scientists, cautioned that emissions from gasoline-powered vehicles had seen minimal improvement since 2015. Cooke emphasized that automakers needed to intensify efforts to reduce emissions from conventional gasoline vehicles, which still dominate the market.

Looking ahead, the EPA projected further growth in the production of electric vehicles, plug-in hybrids, and fuel-cell vehicles, reaching 12% of total production in 2023. The average range of EVs also reached a new high of 305 miles, a substantial increase from 2011 levels.

In response to the report, various stakeholders in the automotive industry voiced their opinions on proposed emissions regulations. The EPA’s ambitious plan for a 56% reduction in fleet average emissions by 2032, with an aim to make 67% of new vehicles electric by that year, faced divergent perspectives. While environmental advocates like Dan Becker from the Center for Biological Diversity’s Safe Climate Transport Campaign called for even more stringent regulations, automakers and the United Auto Workers union sought potential modifications to the EPA’s proposal. The finalization of these regulations is poised to play a crucial role in shaping the trajectory of the U.S. automotive landscape in the years to come.

Source: Reuters


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