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New-Vehicle Fuel Efficiency Flat in 2021, Even as CO2 Emissions Declined, EPA Says — OPIS

The average real-world fuel economy of new vehicles remained flat at 25.4 miles per gallon in 2021, while average real-world CO2 emissions fell to a record low, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency reported Monday.

The EPA's latest Automotive Trends Report, however, finds that consumer preferences continue to trend away from more economical sedans toward larger vehicles such as SUVs and trucks. In 2021, sedans and wagons represented about 26% of the market, about half of the 50% market share they held in 2013. Truck SUVs represented a record 45% of the market during the year, while pickup trucks represented 16%.

"The trend away from sedan/wagons, which remain the vehicle type with the highest fuel economy and lowest CO2 emissions, and towards vehicle types with lower fuel economy and higher CO2 emissions has offset some of the fleetwide benefits that otherwise would have been achieved from the improvements within each vehicle type," the EPA report noted.

The EPA also notes that data provided by manufacturers suggest both average mileage and CO2 emissions will see improvements once results are compiled for the 2022 model year.

The report also points out that while new-vehicle production rose slightly in 2021, it remains well below pre-COVID-19 pandemic production levels, as markets struggled with supply chain issues and a shortage of microchips last year.

Of companies that manufacture vehicles with internal combustion engines, Subaru had the highest average fleet mileage at 28.8 mpg in 2021. Stellantis had the lowest average, at 21.3 mpg. Subaru had the lowest average C02 emissions, at 309 grams per mile, while Stellantis topped the list at 417 g/m.

Overall, new-vehicle fleet emissions averaged 347 g/m, down from 349 g/m in 2020. The Mitsubishi Mirage was the ICE vehicle with the best overall fuel mileage for 2021, at 41.6 mpg. The Mirage has topped the list seven of the last eight years, with its overall fuel economy unchanged since 2019.

It is forecast that the new vehicle fleet will average 26.4 mpg in 2022, while CO2 emissions will fall to an average 331 g/m. Hyundai is forecast to have the most efficient fleet of traditional manufacturers, with an average of 29.1 mpg. The Mirage is forecast to have the best mileage, though its average will fall to 40.1 mpg, the report said.

Looking at a breakdown of vehicle types shows sedans and wagons represented 25.7% of the market and got an average of 32.2 mpg in 2021, a 0.5 mpg increase from the previous year. Car SUVs represented 11.4% of the market with an average 31 mpg, an increase of 1.6 mpg. Truck SUVs captured 44.7% of the market and averaged 24.1 mpg, an increase of 0.3 mpg. Minivans and vans were 2.2% of the market and averaged 27.3 mpg, or 3.9 mpg higher than the year before.

Pickup trucks captured 16.1% of the market and averaged 19.3 mpg, or 0.1 mpg higher than in 2020.

Electric vehicle manufacturer Tesla easily outperformed traditional manufacturers in the EPA ratings, notching the lowest tailpipe CO2 emissions and highest fuel economy of all large manufacturers, EPA said.

The report notes the growing popularity of electric vehicles and says EV range for the 2021 fleet averaged 298 miles before requiring a charge. That, EPA says, is about four times higher than the average range in 2011.


--Reporting by Steve Cronin,; Editing by Barbara Chuck,

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

December 12, 2022 16:18 ET (21:18 GMT)

Copyright (c) 2022 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.

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