For the First Time, Automakers Fail to Meet U.S. Emissions Standards

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a report, which found that, despite a slight uptick in efficiency from 2015, the average emissions for model year 2016 cars and light trucks sold in the U.S. exceeded the annual regulatory standard for the first time since the rules became effective in 2012. EPA found that model year 2016 vehicles produced an average of 272 grams of carbon dioxide per mile (g/mi), which was 9 g/mi higher than the standard.

Of the 13 largest automakers, eight reported emissions higher than their respective standard. However, due to past compliance, all of the automakers were able to use credits from previous model years to meet their compliance obligations for this year. This widespread failure to meet current emissions standards is sure to spur automakers to continue lobbying the Trump administration to ease the efficiency standards moving forward.

EPA addressed fuel efficiency in a separate report, stating that model year 2016 vehicles had an average of 24.7 miles per gallon (mpg), a new record but only 0.1 mpg higher than 2015 compared to a 0.4 mpg increase from 2014-2015. According to EPA, this slowing trend is due to the fact that more Americans are buying larger, less-fuel efficient vehicles. Mazda maintained its role as the leader in fuel economy, coming in at 29.6 mpg, whereas Fiat-Chrysler, who is under investigation for reporting violations, came in last at 21.5 mpg.

EPA is currently reviewing whether to retain its lofty efficiency standards for 2022-2025, which require automakers to achieve an average of 50 mpg across their entire fleet by 2025.