US automakers on track to meet GHG standards

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently released a Manufacturers Performance Report that assesses the automobile industry's progress toward meeting greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions standards for cars and light trucks in the 2012 model year—the first year of this 14-year program.

The report reveals that consumers bought cleaner vehicles in the first year of the program than the 2012 GHG standard required, and that automakers are off to a good start in meeting program requirements.

The data show that in model year 2012, the industry reduced tailpipe carbon dioxide emissions, and also used the optional flexibilities built into the standards.

Those flexibilities include emissions credits for improvements in air conditioning systems, and a system that allows transfer of emissions credits from year to year, and among manufacturers.

The standards flexibilities also allow greater emissions reductions, lower compliance costs, and more consumer choices, all while providing manufacturers with options on how and when to make reductions.

Since the program has a multi-year structure, the EPA will not make formal compliance determinations for the 2012 model year until 2015. EPA will be closely tracking progress towards compliance, and it intends to issue annual Manufacturers Performance Reports on the program.

The trend toward more efficient, cleaner cars and trucks continued in model year 2012. According to EPA's most recent Fuel Economy Trends Report, fuel economy improved by 1.2 miles/gallon (mpg) in 2012 compared to 2011, the second biggest improvement in the last 30 years.

Furthermore, in 2013, there were twice as many sport utility vehicle models that achieved at least 25 mpg, and seven times as many car models that achieved 40 mpg or more, compared to five years ago.

The GHG emissions standards are projected to cut 6 billion metric tons of greenhouse gases over the lifetimes of vehicles sold in model years 2012–2025—more than the total amount of carbon dioxide emitted by the US in 2012.

The standards are also projected to save consumers who purchase a new model-year 2025 vehicle more than $8,000 in fuel costs over that vehicle's lifetime.

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