July 15, 2024
EPA Report Shows Record-High Horsepower And Fuel Economy For New Vehicles

At the end of 2022, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released its annual Automotive Trends Report. Covering 2021 model-year vehicles, it features the most recent data available regarding various new-vehicle statistics, including fuel efficiency and carbon dioxide emissions. In short, cars have never been more efficient, cleaner, and more powerful than they are right now.

That’s the short version of the report, and we do mean short. The full report is 158 pages long, but on average, it reveals overall fuel economy for new vehicles is up 32 percent while COemissions are down 25 percent. Meanwhile, horsepower is up 20 percent. The start-point for these percentages is 2004, the year which saw fuel economy begin a steady rise after more than a decade of decline.

Photo Credit: US EPA

It’s important to remember that this is an overall industry average. The report classifies vehicles into five categories: pickup trucks, truck-SUV, car-SUV, sedans/wagons, and minivans. The two SUV categories are separated by weight, with vehicles over 6,000 pounds falling into the truck-SUV realm. Car-SUV is home to smaller models that may or may not have four-wheel drive or AWD systems. And as we’re all aware, buying trends have shifted significantly towards the SUV realm in the last 20 years.

As such, the report states that improvements could’ve been greater had the market not moved away from sedans and minivans. Case-in-point are category-specific fuel economy numbers showing minivans with the greatest increase at 3.9 mpg, versus pickup trucks clocking a barely noticeable 0.1-mpg increase. The report also mentions stats for specific automakers, noting Stellantis as posting the highest CO2 emissions with the lowest fuel economy numbers among major manufacturers. It should be no surprise that Tesla, with its all-electric lineup, ranked best for economy and emissions.

The EPA report credits advancements in technology for the improvements, especially in the last few years. Electrification is obviously a big part of that, but the report also credits the influx of smaller turbocharged engines, stop-start systems, and cylinder deactivation for creating a cleaner fleet of new vehicles. As for power, bonkers 1,000-hp EVs certainly up the ante, but there’s a growing slate of mainstream vehicles like the Toyota RAV4 Prime plug-in hybrid offering over 300 hp to buyers.

Of course, the EPA has recently proposed new rules that would build significantly on these gains. If approved, the rules would go into effect starting in 2027 and see emissions fall another 56 percent. To meet this goal, the EPA estimates that EVs would account for approximately 67 percent of light-duty new-vehicle sales in 2032.

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