Cars achieved record-high fuel economy while outperforming greenhouse gas emission standards last year, according to EPA data, even as low gas prices make it more difficult to sell more fuel-efficient vehicles.
The average fuel economy of new passenger vehicles last year hit 24.8 mpg, up 0.5 mpg from 2014.
For the fourth year in a row, Mazda (pictured) achieved the highest overall fuel efficiency, followed by Honda, Nissan, Subaru and Hyundai.
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles was the least fuel efficient, but also had the fleet with the biggest improvement compared to 2014.
The EPA said car manufacturers went beyond the model year 2015 standards by an average 7 grams of CO2 per mile, equivalent to 0.9 mpg, even as the fleet-wide standard became more stringent by 13 grams of CO2 per mile.
Since 2011, the year before the national Greenhouse Gas and Fuel economy standards for passenger vehicles took effect, fuel economy has increased by 2.4 mpg, and CO2 emissions per mile traveled have decreased by 10 percent.
But automakers’ margin of compliance over the requirements has fallen as the rules have gotten tougher, an EPA official told Reuters.
The EPA data comes as federal agencies undertake a midterm review of the Obama administration’s emissions and fuel efficiency standards for passenger cars and light trucks — standards that aim to double these vehicles’ fuel economy to 54.5 miles per gallon and cut GHG emissions in half by 2025.
Some automakers and lawmakers have raised concerns that the higher fuel efficiency rules may not be achievable.
“Given changes in the market landscape, it will be a daunting challenge to meet the very aggressive requirements of the 2022-2025 federal fuel economy and greenhouse gas rule,” the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers said in an earlier statement. “Absent a vigorous commitment to focus on marketplace realities, excessive regulatory costs could impact both consumers and the employees who produce these vehicles.”
Federal regulators must decide by 2018 whether to keep or revise the 2022-2025 standards.
“For now, automakers are ahead in meeting fuel economy targets because they have introduced the affordable fuel-saving technology to consumers as soon as possible,” Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers spokesperson Gloria Bergquist told Reuters. “But the challenge of meeting future requirements will require new technology or more costly technology as fuel economy targets become higher.”