Growing Popularity of Trucks Dents Fuel-Economy Gains, US Finds

Source: By Dana Hull, Bloomberg • Posted: Tuesday, December 13, 2022

Ford pickup trucks on a sales lot in Miami, Florida. 

Ford pickup trucks on a sales lot in Miami, Florida.  Photographer: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

The rising popularity of large trucks and sport utility vehicles is slowing the auto industry’s efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the US government found.

After reaching a record high in 2020, fuel economy for vehicles from the last model year was unchanged, according to a report released Monday from the Environmental Protection Agency. Carbon dioxide emissions decreased slightly in 2021, the study found.

The figures reflect consumers’ embrace of larger, heavier and more powerful vehicles, which typically have lower fuel economy and higher CO2 emissions than other automobiles. Sedans fell to 26% of the cars produced in 2021, down from more than 80% in 1975, the report found. Meanwhile, the large vehicles that the EPA calls “truck SUVs” reached a record high of 45% of production.

“The overall new vehicle market continues to move away from the sedan/wagon vehicle type,” the agency said in the executive summary of the report. That “has offset some of the fleetwide benefits that otherwise would have been achieved from the improvements within each vehicle type.”