EPA: Fuel Economy for New Vehicles Rises for Fifth Straight Year

November 25, 2009

The average fuel economy of cars and light trucks sold in the United States for Model Year (MY) 2009 is estimated at 21.1 miles per gallon (mpg), an increase of 0.1 mpg over last year's figure, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The EPA bases its fuel economy estimates on sales projected by the automakers prior to the launch of the model year, and because of the changing economic times, the EPA is uncertain about this year's projection. The EPA also adjusted last year's projection upward based on actual sales, as consumers bought more fuel-efficient vehicles than the automakers had expected. As a result, the average fuel economy for MY 2008 is now 21.0 mpg, up from the estimated 20.8 mpg, which means that fuel economy went up by 0.4 mpg for MY 2008. That adjustment also lowered the estimated fuel economy gain for MY 2009.

This marks the first time that data for carbon dioxide emissions are included in the annual report, now named "Light-Duty Automotive Technology, Carbon Dioxide Emissions, and Fuel Economy Trends: 1975 through 2009." The new report confirms that average carbon dioxide emissions have decreased and fuel economy has increased for the past five model years. Average carbon dioxide emissions have decreased by 39 grams per mile, or 8%, and the average fuel economy has increased by 1.8 mpg, or 9%, since 2004. This positive trend that began in 2005 reverses a long period of decreasing fuel economy from 1987 through 2004, and it returns average fuel economy to levels of the early 1980s. The report also provides data on the carbon dioxide emissions, fuel economy, and technology characteristics of new light-duty vehicles, including cars, minivans, sport utility vehicles, and pickup trucks. See the EPA press release and the report.