Model year 2016 cars and light trucks sold in the U.S. fell short of the Environmental Protection Agency’s greenhouse gas emissions standards despite a small efficiency improvement from the prior year, according to data released on Jan. 11.
The vehicles averaged emissions of 272 grams of carbon dioxide per mile, 9 grams per mile worse than the regulatory standard for the 2016 model year, according to the report. The industry overall had performed better than the carbon emission targets in each year since 2012, when the efficiency targets took effect.
EPA regulations establish annual targets for carbon dioxide emissions, which is closely linked to fuel economy, and get tougher each year. Despite the deficit, all automakers are in compliance with the regulations, the agency said. Credits accumulated in prior years offset the industry’s 2016 shortfall.
In a separate Fuel Economy Trends report also released on Jan. 11, the EPA said 2016 model year vehicles averaged 24.7 miles per gallon. The average was a record, but the pace of gains has slowed. The 2016 average was up 0.1 miles per gallon from 2015, compared to a 0.5 mpg gain from 2014 to 2015..
The EPA’s emissions standards grow tougher each year through 2025 under a plan enacted by the Obama administration to boost average fuel economy to more than 50 mpg by that time. Those rules are also under review by the Trump administration for possible changes, which automakers have pushed for in light of low gas prices and booming light truck sales.
Automakers lobbying the administration will likely use the industry’s shortfall results to bolster their case to ease vehicle efficiency standards for 2022 through 2025 to account for low gasoline prices and shifting consumer preferences for larger, less-efficient vehicles.
By Ryan Beene