US automotive carbon emissions 'relatively flat' without EVs – EPA

Some major OEMs see increased emissions per mile owing to engorged ICE vehicle size

US automotive carbon emissions 'relatively flat' without EVs – EPA
Driven by EVs, the average emission rate for all new vehicles fell by 10 gallons/mile in 2023

EVs are the only segment of the automotive market contributing to a material reduction in carbon emissions in the US, according to a new report from regulator the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

While the report finds that "in model year 2022, the average estimated real-world CO2 emission rate for all new vehicles fell by 10g/mi to 337g/mi, the lowest ever measured", a large proportion of the improvements came from EVs of various hues.

"Without EV, PHEV, and FCV production, the CO2 emissions and fuel economy of the remaining new vehicles was relatively flat," the report says.

The inclusion of model year 2022 EV, PHEV, and FCV production reduced the overall new vehicle average CO2 emissions by 22g/mi versus the result if EVs, PHEVs, and FCVs are taken out. The report compares EVs to ICE and hybrid vehicles by using a metric called miles per gallon of gasoline equivalent (mpge).

And while the EPA finds that ICE vehicles are becoming more fuel efficient, the increasing size of ICE vehicles is cancelling out any material carbon emissions reduction versus older ICE vehicles.

"The long-term trend away from sedan and wagons and towards vehicle types with lower fuel economy and higher CO2 emissions has offset some of the fleetwide benefits that otherwise would have been achieved from the improvements within each vehicle type," the report finds.

And the shift towards larger vehicles, in particular pickup trucks, leads to OEMs such as the US' GM and Japan's Honda actually increasing their emissions in terms of gallons per mile. Both firms have struggled to gain traction with their EV offerings, with Honda making up only 5.3pc of its US sales with EVs.

"GM had the second largest increase at 17g/mi, and Honda had the third largest increase at 7g/mi. Shifts in production towards larger vehicles combined with increased CO2 emission rates for pickups more than offset emission improvements in all other vehicle types for GM and Honda," the report says.

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But this is also a phenomenon affecting EVs, with the EPA noting that "in model year 2022 the fuel economy of average new EVs fell, mostly due to the introduction of larger vehicles that have lower overall fuel economy ratings".

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