According to a recent Environmental Protection Agency report, the fuel economy of new vehicles sold in the U.S. last year increased 1.4 mpg over the previous year; the biggest yearly increase in nearly 40 years. The agency cited Honda Motor Company, Mazda Motor Corporation and Volkswagen AG as having the most fuel-efficient fleets.
Over the past five years, the fuel efficiency of new vehicles has risen 16 percent, to an average of 23.8 mpg.
In a statement Gina McCarthy said, “We are making strides toward saving families money at the pump, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and cleaning up the air we breathe.” McCarthy is President Obama’s nominee to replace outgoing EPA head Lisa Jackson.
The Obama administration has called on automakers to double the fuel efficiency, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions of their fleets by half by model year 2015. The EPA report shows that nearly one quarter of all vehicles currently in production meet standard set forth by the administration.
Although hybrids, electric vehicles and diesel models have contributed to the overall increase in fuel efficiency, the majority of cars and trucks already in compliance with the new standard are gasoline-powered models.
According to the EPA report, Honda tops the list of most fuel efficient vehicles with an average fuel economy of 26.4 mpg. German automaker, Volkswagen AG, is close behind with a fleet-wide average of 26.2 mpg. Mazda placed third, with an overall fuel efficiency of 25.9 mpg.
Korea’s Hyundai Motor Company and Kia Motor Corporation were not included in the annual report because of an ongoing EPA investigation into their test results. The agency said that the two automakers would have ranked at the top of the list had they been included.
The report cited Chrysler Group LLC as having the lowest fleet-wide fuel economy of automakers included in the study, with 20.6 mpg.
Safe Climate Campaign director Dan Becker said the report should serve as “a warning light on Detroit’s dashboard.” He went on to say that Detroit’s Big Three automakers took their eye off the ball when the Japan earthquake curtailed production by that country’s automakers. As a result, “our overall fuel efficiency faltered,” he said.