Car manufacturers have made great strides in improving the gas mileage of vehicles. These efforts have helped reduce carbon emissions and the negative effects of climate change. In addition to producing more electric cars, the fuel economy of gasoline-powered vehicles improves every year. However, there is a lot of room for improvement. Also, according to a study by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), there is something that is killing progress on climate change: large trucks and SUVs in the United States.
Large trucks and SUVs stall the progress of change, according to the EPA’s 2022 Automotive Trends Report
The EPA recently released its 2022 Automotive Trends Report. Unfortunately, the EPA report reveals that American automakers and consumers are hindering progress in reducing the polluting carbon emissions that cause climate change.
Gas mileage has gradually increased for cars in each vehicle class. However, the shift from sedans to larger trucks and SUVs in recent years has negated the anticipated benefits. To put it bluntly, Americans are buying more gas-guzzling trucks and large SUVs instead of smaller, more fuel-efficient sedans.
Consumer and environmental advocates are understandably disappointed with the results of the EPA study. Avi Mersky, a transportation researcher, told yahoo news: “Some models have become more efficient, but with the heavy marketing of large SUVs, automakers are grabbing more and more market share. Manufacturers are canceling all efficiency progress as they sell larger vehicles.”
Pickup trucks and SUVs have lower EPA fuel economy requirements than sedans
Automakers selling vehicles in the United States must meet EPA fuel economy requirements. Each class of vehicle must achieve a certain mile per gallon (mpg). Due in part to these regulations, gas mileage has roughly doubled for cars sold in the United States since 1975. As a result, vehicle carbon emissions have been cut in half.
However, the shift to large trucks and SUVs has prevented further efficiency gains. As a result, the emission reduction is much less than it could be. The EPA sets different gas mileage standards for each class of vehicle. And for trucks and SUVs, the required mpg is lower than for sedans.
Fuel economy for each weight class hit a record in 2021. However, this progress was offset by the shift to heavier vehicles. In 2021, the average gas mileage for all vehicles sold in the US was 25.4 mpg. Despite efficiency improvements, this fuel economy was the same as it was in 2020.
In its report, the EPA stated: “In the 2021 model year, sedans and wagons fell to 26% of the market, well below the 50% market share they had through the 2013 model year, and well below the 80% market share they had. held in 1975.” By contrast, “SUVs,” or SUVs so large that they can be classified as trucks rather than light trucks, achieved a record 45% market share, while pickup trucks rose to a 16% share. Also, since “SUVs” can be classified as heavy trucks, they have a lower gas mileage standard than light trucks.
Merskey continued: “Automakers are making fewer cars, in favor of trucks, and making those trucks bigger. It is also worth noting that even within these categories, the vehicle footprint has been increasing.
Transportation is the largest contributor of carbon emissions in the US.
For its international agreements on climate change, the US has pledged to reduce its carbon emissions by 50% by 2030. However, the shift in the US towards large trucks and SUVs makes it difficult to achieve this goal.
Transportation is the largest contributor of carbon emissions in the US. While some of the emissions come from air travel, a significant part comes from the automotive sector. The Biden administration finalized ambitious automotive efficiency standards for cars for the 2024-2026 model year. However, climate change experts warn that the next round of standards should be even more ambitious. These standards, which will be for 2027 and later model year vehicles, will be proposed in March 2023.
Additionally, experts cite the need to change the framework of EPA standards to improve overall efficiency. “EPA would also be justified in adding an ‘endorsement’ to these standards. This would be a minimum fleet-wide fuel economy which, if not met, would automatically adjust fuel economy and emissions standards across all vehicles,” Merskey said.
Will US resistance to auto regulations hamper efforts to address climate change?
As consumer habits show, getting Americans to choose smaller, more efficient cars over large, gas-guzzling trucks and SUVs is a tall order. This resistance occurs despite facing the dire effects of climate change. However, for Americans who bemoan EPA regulations and other government mandates for cars, it’s worth noting that the US is extreme compared to the rest of the world (especially developed countries) in its reluctance to address climate change.
The United States was an international pariah for being one of the last countries to sign (after previously leaving) the Paris Climate Accords. Also, compared to other developed countries, especially Europe, fuel economy standards in the US are much lower. Part of this is due to American resistance to regulation and a desire to drive what they want, without government interference.
When weighing “individual rights and liberties” against the “greater good for society”, the US leans more towards the former compared to Europe and other developed countries, as detailed in the report. Washington Post. This greater acceptance of regulations in other countries compared to the United States applies not only to the auto industry, but also to most of the regulatory issues that are contentious in the US. This includes regulations for health care, the security, privacy and economy.
Outside of the US, cars tend to be smaller, as people place a higher value on the need for more efficient cars, among other reasons. For many drivers in other countries, fuel-efficient cars are not even a negative regulatory issue. People simply recognize that the benefit to society and the world as a whole far outweighs one’s personal desire for the car one wants to drive.
By contrast, Americans tend to drive larger, gas-guzzling trucks and SUVs. And as a result, they kill the advance of climate change, as the EPA study shows.