The average car or light truck on US roads is 11.8 years old.
Enlarge / The common automobile or mild truck on US roads is 11.8 years outdated.

The previous few years have seen a moderately bitter struggle over car air pollution between the federal authorities and California, with automakers taking sides. In August 2012, through the Obama administration, the US Environmental Safety Company introduced new requirements aiming to achieve a goal of 54.4mpg (4.3l/100km). However with the change of administration in the beginning of 2017 got here a change in these priorities.

On the time, I described the brand new goal as “pathetic.” However here is the actually scary factor—as unambitious because it was, it could nonetheless characterize a 50 p.c enhance in effectivity in comparison with the prevailing US mild car fleet. In response to a brand new evaluation at Inexperienced Automobile Congress, when you analyze the common miles pushed per gallon of gasoline annually, the US has made virtually no progress between 2008-2019.

The Environmental Safety Company versus California

Shortly after the start of the Trump administration, the EPA gave discover that it was much less desirous about cleansing up car emissions. Moreover, the EPA known as out California, which has a waiver that provides its California Air Sources Board the facility to manage air air pollution from automobiles throughout the state’s borders. (Colorado, Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington additionally take part within the so-called Zero Emissions Automobile program, taking their lead from CARB.)

The EPA’s justification for making automobiles and vans pollute extra? It mentioned improved gasoline effectivity requirements would lead to extra deaths on US roads as a result of extra environment friendly applied sciences would enhance new car costs, main Individuals to proceed driving older, much less secure automobiles and vans. (Specialists discovered this reasoning extremely specious.)

At first, there was (sadly) widespread help for the EPA’s actions from automakers. However California has been difficult the EPA, and in 2019, BMW, Ford, Honda, and Volkswagen all agreed voluntarily to decide to CARB’s plan to cut back car emissions, (Fiat Chrysler, Common Motors, and Toyota all continued to oppose plans to make automobiles extra environment friendly.)

That very same yr, the EPA introduced it needed to revoke California’s potential to set its personal air pollution rules and reportedly launched an antitrust investigation into the settlement between California and BMW/Ford/Honda/VW. (This did not go down terribly properly in Congress.)

However in March 2020, the EPA revealed its new guidelines, deciding on a a lot much less formidable 40.4mpg (5.8l/100kmg) because the objective by 2026. (As a result of method that these gasoline effectivity numbers are arrived at, the true world effectivity can be roughly 40mpg below the older goal however roughly 30mpg below the brand new one.)

What do the precise numbers say?

Researcher Michael Sivak has been compiling stories on the precise US automobile and light-weight truck fleet for some years now, with a knowledge set that goes again to 1966. (Earlier than this time, mild vans had been categorized with heavy vans, not passenger automobiles.) From his information, we will see that the US fleet truly bought much less environment friendly between 1966-1973, then, in response to the oil disaster, the fleet effectivity elevated from 12.9mpg (18.2l/100km) in 1973 to 19.6mpg (12l/100km). This remained successfully flat till 2004, rising to 21.8mpg (10.8l/100km) by 2008, presumably in response to swiftly rising gasoline costs. By 2019, the quantity had risen by a mere 0.4mpg, a change of lower than two p.c in whole, or 0.2mpg per yr.

As Sivak notes, the largest hurdle to fixing the problem is the truth that there are lots of extra older automobiles and vans already on our roads. The US passenger automobile and light-weight truck fleet totals 253.8 million automobiles, with a mean age of 11.8 years. Against this, simply 17 million new automobiles bought in 2019.

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