The fuel economy of new vehicles sold in the United States set a record for efficiency during model year 2012 as vehicles reached an all-time high fuel economy of 23.6 miles per gallon, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has reported.
The 23.6 mpg figure represented a 1.2 mpg increase over the previous year, making it the second largest annual increase in the last 30 years. Fuel economy has now increased in seven of the last eight years, according to the EPA.
“Today’s new vehicles are cleaner and more fuel efficient than ever, saving American families money at the gas pump and helping to keep the air that we breathe cleaner,” said Janet McCabe, Acting Assistant Administrator for EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation. “Each year new technologies are coming on line to keep driving these positive trends toward greater and greater efficiency.”
These results support a recent study from the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute, or UMTRI, that showed the typical vehicle sold last month delivered an EPA-rated fuel economy of 24.8 mpg in November, up 0.1 mpg from the revised October figure.
Perhaps more significantly, that means the typical is now getting about 23% better mileage – a 4.7 mpg average increase, since October 2007, the first month of monitoring by UMTRI, noted lead researchers Michael Sivak and Brandon Schoettle.
All these notes come amidst the fact that gas prices have been dropping for most of this year. McCabe also said fuel economy will continue to improve under the Obama administration initiatives National Clean Car Program standards, which propose doubling fuel economy standards by 2025 and cutting vehicle greenhouse gas emissions by half.
The standards will save American families $1.7 trillion dollars in fuel costs, and by 2025 will result in an average fuel savings of more than $8,000 per vehicle and reduce oil consumption by more than 2 million barrels a day, which is half of the oil the U.S. imports from OPEC countries daily.
The fuel economy improvement in model year 2012 is consistent with longer-term trends across the automotive industry, McCabe added.
Fuel economy has increased by 2.6 mpg, or 12%, since 2008, and by 4.3 mpg, or 22%, since 2004, according to EPA figures. Average carbon dioxide emissions of 376 grams per mile in model year 2012 also represented a record low.
U.S. Energy Secretary Dr. Ernest Moniz said the Obama administration’s support for increased domestic oil and gas production does not conflict with its goals of addressing climate change and lowering greenhouse gases.
The U.S. remains a major importer of crude oil, Moniz said, and the Obama administration is taking aim at reducing those imports through efficiency measures and investments in alternative fuels and vehicle certification.
Moniz said during a panel discussion after the speech that with the U.S. awash in domestically produced oil, it may be time for the U.S. to review its ban on exports of crude, But the Department of Energy has no immediate plans to change the composition of or to sell off any part of the U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve.
(Despite plunging gas prices, fuel economy on the rise. For more, Click Here.)
“We remain committed, even as we produce much more oil, to lessening our oil dependence, using less oil domestically and having fewer emissions,” Moniz said during Platt’s Global Energy Outlook Forum, which is held annually.
Meanwhile, the U.S. provable reserves of petroleum under the ground are expected to continue growing, according to experts.
“What we are seeing now is that some new technologies – without government subsidies – are getting mature enough to make it into the mainstream,” said Wal van Lierop, president and CEO, Chrysalix Energy Venture Capital. “We will continue to see more of this in years to come.”
The U.S. has experienced a boom in crude production in places like North Dakota, and pipelines that once took crude from the Gulf of Mexico up to the Midcontinent are now operating in reverse.
(Click Here to check out the November sales surge.)
Additionally, a top European utility executive said he does not see shale gas being a game-changer on the continent the way it has been in the U.S.
Leonhard Birnbaum, chief commercial officer of Germany-based E.ON said Europe lacks the regulatory environment and infrastructure to significantly tap into its shale gas resources.
“We do not have ownership of underground commodities,” he said during a panel discussion about the future of power generation. “If I’m a farmer in Germany, what’s my upside if someone drills on my land?”
In addition, he said, Europe does not have the robust oil services industry and pipeline systems like the U.S. Environmental opposition to fracking is high in Europe, and even in Poland, where resistance is relatively low, the results of exploration have been disappointing, he said.
“It’s hard to imagine it’s going to take off fast,” Birnbaum said. “For the next 10 years, it’s not a game-changer. The advantage of the U.S. on the gas side and the power side is quite sustainable.”