According to the study, between 2011 and 2012 US cars and light trucks saw an increase in average fuel economy to 23.8 mpg — a 1.4 mpg improvement compared to the previous year — representing the largest annual improvements since EPA began reporting on fuel economy.
Light-Duty Automotive Technology, Carbon Dioxide Emissions, and Fuel Economy Trends: 1975 through 2012 attributes the improvements to the rapid adoption of more efficient technologies, the increasing number of high fuel economy choices for consumers, and the fact that many automakers are already selling vehicles that can meet more stringent future fuel economy and greenhouse gas emissions standards (see chart).
The report indicates that the projected gains for 2012 more than make up for a slight dip in fuel economy in 2011.
The 2012 numbers are based on sales estimates automakers provided to the EPA.
Compared to five years ago, consumers have twice as many hybrid and diesel vehicle choices, a growing set of plug-in electric vehicle options, and a six-fold increase in the number of car models with combined city/highway fuel economy of 30 mpg or higher.
The agency expects to double fuel efficiency and cut carbon pollution of vehicles in half by 2025 under the Obama administration’s National Clean Car Program standards, issued in 2011. The regulations 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, according to the EPA. The program will also save 12 billion barrels of oil, and by 2025 will reduce oil consumption by more than 2 million barrels a day — as much as half of the oil imported from OPEC every day.
The President has also said he will ask Congress to create a $2 billion energy security trust to fund alternative fuel research. According to the Chicago Tribune, the trust will be included in Obama’s proposed budget and will research fuels that could eventually replace gasoline. The money would come from expected revenue from drilling permits, and from higher oil and gas production in the Gulf of Mexico.