Car gasoline financial system positive aspects faltered in 2021: Blame the SUV, once more


Fleet-wide gasoline financial system for autos offered within the U.S. has stumbled, based on the EPA’s not too long ago launched 2022 Automotive Developments Report. The report factors to elevated SUV gross sales as one cause for the stagnation of effectivity.

The actual-world gasoline financial system of light-duty autos offered within the U.S. remained flat for the 2021 mannequin yr, at 25.4 mpg, based on the report. That is the very best it has been for the reason that EPA started logging information for brand new autos with the 1975 mannequin yr, however nonetheless reveals enchancment has slowed.

That is due no less than partially to the continued shift towards much less environment friendly SUVs and pickup vans, based on the report. For the 2021 mannequin yr, gross sales of sedans and wagons fell to 26% of the market, in comparison with the 50% market share they held as not too long ago as 2013, and 80% in 1975.

2021 Honda Accord Hybrid

2021 Honda Accord Hybrid

On the similar time, “truck SUV” gross sales (representing autos with a gross car weight ranking of 6,000 kilos or increased) reached a report 45% market share for the 2021 mannequin yr, whereas pickups elevated to 16% market share.

But these classes of auto noticed a number of the lowest enhancements in effectivity for the 2021 mannequin yr. Common gasoline financial system for pickups elevated by simply 0.1 mpg, whereas “truck SUV” gasoline financial system rose by 0.3 mpg, in comparison with 0.5 mpg for sedans/wagons, 2.6 mpg for “automobile SUVs,” and three.9 mpg for minivans/vans. That is with vital progress in hybrid powertrains for pickups and “truck SUVs,” which helped enhance total hybrid market share to 9%, based on the report.

“The development away from sedan/wagons, which stay the car kind with the very best gasoline financial system and lowest CO2 emissions, and in direction of car varieties with decrease gasoline financial system and better CO2 emissions has offset a number of the fleetwide advantages that in any other case would have been achieved from the enhancements inside every car kind,” based on an govt abstract for the report.

2021 Ford F-150 tow technology

2021 Ford F-150 tow know-how

Whereas gasoline financial system is at a report excessive, so is common car weight, the report famous. Pickups noticed the largest enhance, rising 30% heavier for the reason that 1975 mannequin yr, whereas the typical weight of sedans/wagons and “automobile SUVs” has really decreased, by 12% and 5%, respectively, the report stated.

Automakers need not enhance gasoline financial system urgently to fulfill emissions targets. They’ve a big financial institution of emissions credit saved as much as take care of any shortfalls, the report famous. Twelve of the 14 largest automakers ended mannequin yr 2021 with zero or optimistic credit score balances, the report stated, and leftover credit could be carried ahead so far as the 2026 mannequin yr in some circumstances.

Average new vehicle weight by vehicle type (from EPA 2022 Automotive Trends Report)

Common new car weight by car kind (from EPA 2022 Automotive Developments Report)


The stagnation of auto effectivity also can partly be blamed on the Trump administration’s lowered gasoline mileage targets. The Biden administration goals to reverse that coverage, with harder requirements that will deliver extra hybrids and EVs sooner. That can create a brand new set of questions for policymakers and automakers to ponder.

Some pursuits need to see each EV effectivity and associated upstream emissions included in U.S. car requirements, in a simple method. Will increase in car weight will even proceed until automakers discover an alternative choice to massive battery packs. Sooner or later, optimizing EV weight vs. battery measurement stands out as the new frontier of fleet-wide effectivity.


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