Fuel economy of American vehicles continues to drop

big pickup
CC BY 2.0 Big pickup truck with killer bar on front/ Lloyd Alter

Every month, Michael Sivak and Brandon Schoettle of the University of Michigan release the latest data on fuel economy of American vehicles and once again, it is dropping, down to an average of 24.8 mpg, down 0.4 mpg since September. They note that “this likely reflects both a continuing increase in the proportion of light trucks sold each month, as well as the recent calculation adjustments for window-sticker values implemented by the EPA for model year 2017. ” -As gas prices continue to stay low, buyers are going for bigger pickups and SUVs.

It is likely that the average fuel efficiency will continue to drop as regulations on fuel economy are lifted by the new government. Mike Spector of the Wall Street Journal quotes a Trump advisor:

“The Trump administration will complete a comprehensive review of all federal regulations. This includes a review of the fuel-economy and emissions standards to make sure they are not harming consumers or American workers,” said John Mashburn, a Trump senior policy adviser. “It is important to remember that this particular program was first put in place as a way to reduce our nation’s dependence on foreign oil, not for purposes of global warming regulation.”
The logic being that America is no longer dependent on foreign oil, so there is no longer any need to regulate fuel economy for that reason, and they certainly are not going to regulate anything with respect to CO2 emissions, because they do not believe that they are a problem.

The auto makers have all been pushing for this, given that they cannot meet demand for their very profitable SUVs and pickup trucks when they have to hit fuel economy averages. They complain:

“The most important facts are based on customers: what they want to buy, what they can afford to buy,” said John Bozzella, head of another Washington group representing car makers. “We welcome that type of analysis.”

As David Tracy of Jalopnik notes, if the CAFE regulations are eased or eliminated, “the auto industry could be a proverbial free for all, with companies pumping out whatever makes the most money— i.e. SUVs and trucks—and spending less time and money eking out tiny incremental fuel economy gains to appease the feds.”

statistics on deaths© New Scientist

It should be noted that there are other pollutants and particulates that are released when burning gasoline, creating smog and hurting air quality and also that big SUVs and pickup trucks kill pedestrians at three times the rate of regular cars, So it would be nice if it did not turn into a free for all. This is not just about pollution, but also public safety.

Fuel economy of American vehicles continues to drop
When gas is cheap, who cares?

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