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EPA Report Finds Vehicle CO2 Emissions Fell 6% in 2009

The average carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions for new cars and light duty trucks have decreased by six percent, while achieving a seven percent increase in the average fuel efficiency, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s 2010 fuel economy trends report.

In 2009, the average CO2 emissions from new vehicles were 397 grams per mile and the average fuel economy value was 22.4 miles per gallon (mpg). The 27 grams per mile, or 6 percent, decrease compared to model year 2008 was the largest yearly CO2 decrease since 1981, according to the report.

In addition, 2009 adjusted composite fuel economy was 22.4 mpg, an all-time high since the database began in 1975, and the 1.4 mpg, or 7 percent, increase over model year 2008 was the biggest fuel economy increase since 1980, says the EPA.

Average CO2 emissions have decreased by 64 grams per mile, or 14 percent, and average fuel economy has increased by 3.1 mpg, or 16 percent, since 2004. The positive six-year trend beginning in 2005 reverses a long period of increasing CO2 emissions and decreasing fuel economy from 1987 through 2004.

The annual report, “Light-Duty Automotive Technology, Carbon Dioxide Emissions, and Fuel Economy Trends: 1975 through 2010,” projects a small improvement in 2010 to 395 grams of CO2 per mile and 22.5 mpg based on pre-model year sales estimates provided by automakers.

EPA says these numbers are consistent with the fuel economy estimates that the agency provides on new vehicle window stickers and in the fuel economy guide. These real-world fuel economy values also are about 20 percent lower, on average, than those used for compliance with the corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) program.

In November, the EPA and the Department of Energy (DOE) released the 2011 Fuel Economy Guide, which provides data about estimated mileage and fuel costs for model year 2011 vehicles to help buyers select the right vehicle.

The EPA also proposed two window stickers designed to make it easier for consumers to compare vehicles based on fuel economy and emissions.

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