The fuel economy of light-duty vehicles has moved gradually upwards for the past 15 years, thanks largely to federal Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards, first adopted in 1975. CAFE standards are now complemented by greenhouse gas emissions standards for vehicles, pioneered by the state of California. Obama-era standards ensuring continued progress through model year 2025 are already saving consumers billions of dollars at the gas pump, adding automotive sector jobs, and reducing harmful emissions.
Average Light-Duty Vehicle Fuel Economy by Model Year
The Trump administration has proposed to halt the upward trajectory of car and light truck fuel economy. In September 2019, federal agencies revoked California’s waiver to set its own vehicle greenhouse gas emissions standards, preventing other states from choosing to adopt standards to reduce energy consumption and emissions of cars and trucks. The Department of Transportation and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are expected to release a final rule on the federal standards in late 2019.
ACEEE is working to maintain progress toward highly fuel-efficient, low-emitting vehicles. Some of our resources are highlighted below.
CAFE and Greenhouse Gas Emissions Standards
Reports and regulatory filings
- Light-Duty Pickup Fuel Economy: Advances and Outlook under Cafe Standards, paper for Transportation Research Board Annual Meeting 2019.
- ACEEE comments on the Safer Affordable Fuel-Efficient Vehicles Rule for Model Years 2021-2026 Passenger Cars and Light Trucks. Comments to DOT and EPA regulatory docket.
- Joint comments from Consumers Union (CU), Consumer Federation of America (CFA), and American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) on the Safer Affordable Fuel-Efficient Vehicles Rule for Model Years 2021-2026. Comments to DOT and EPA regulatory docket.
- Comments to EPA Science Advisory Board on Light- and Heavy-Duty Greenhouse Gas Emissions Standards May 31, 2018
Blog posts and press releases
- US Government Takes Sledgehammer to Clean Car Rules
- Fuel economy gains, now at risk, reduce cost of summer road trips
- Toyota loses ground on fuel economy as federal agencies seek rollback of vehicle standards
- Pickups gearing up for huge fuel economy improvements
- Fuel economy is going up. Vehicle prices are holding steady.
Consumers and vehicles
ACEEE also supports consumer education on fuel-efficient, low-emissions vehicles and targeted incentives for the purchase of highly-efficient vehicles. For over 20 years, ACEEE has provided annual environmental ratings of all new cars and light trucks entering the market, available at greenercars.org. Our Behavior & Human Dimensions work includes research on the consumer vehicle market.
- ACEEE’s methodology for rating vehicles is explained in full in Rating the Environmental Impacts of Motor Vehicles: ACEEE’s greenercars.org Methodology, 2016 Edition
- ACEEE’s Electric Vehicle Calculator allows buyers to calculate an EV green score based on their regional electricity generation mix
- Press release: Greenercars update: Mercedes-Benz and Hyundai top 2019’s Greenest List
Blog post on our behavior research: Car Buyers Rank Fuel Economy as a Top Priority