University of Michigan: New Vehicle Emissions Down 21 Percent

University of Michigan: New Vehicle Emissions Down 21 Percent
  • Opening Intro -

    Buying a new car offers a number of important benefits for consumers including the latest technologies, improved fuel efficiency, and better crashworthiness.

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Improvements in fuel economy noted as well.

Today’s vehicles also pollute far less, averaging 21 percent cleaner than 2007 according to University of Michigan research.

University of Michigan Findings

The research found that the average monthly emissions of greenhouse gases caused by individual American drivers fell to a record low of 0.79 in Nov. 2013. That’s down 21 percent from Oct. 2007. Moreover, fuel economy for new vehicles sold in the United States rose to 24.9 mpg in Jan. 2014, up 0.1 mpg over Dec. 2013. That’s part of a longer trend that saw the average fuel economy rise from 20.8 mpg for model year 2008 to 24.7 mpg for model year 2013.

Both findings are part of a monthly University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI) look at two important factors measuring auto trends: emissions and fuel consumption. The emissions data is part of the university’s Eco-Driving Index; the fuel economy data is derived from the EPA Fuel Economy Guide, what looks at window sticker ratings for the respective models.

The university explains that the values of the EDI are derived by cross-multiplying its two sub-indexes (EDIf — fuel used for distance driven) and (EDId — distance driven). The lower the value of the EDI, the better for the environment. EDI data has a two-month lag to reflect the longer time it takes to acquire the underlying data.

Falling Carbon Emissions

Michigan’s emissions findings also correlate with a broader trend of falling US carbon emissions. Indeed, after peaking in 2007, net emissions fell again in 2012, reaching the lowest levels seen in 18 years reports the Christian Science Monitor.

In the US, energy-related carbon emissions dropped by 3.8 percent in 2012, attributed in part to the Great Recession and shifting from coal power to natural gas. Natural gas is cheaper and burns cleaner than coal. And although its use in cars is virtually negligible, the trend towards cleaner fuels is having a positive impact on the environment.

Global Trend Runs Opposite

Yet, even as Americans consume less fuel and choose cleaner energy, the rest of the world continues to march in the opposite direction. Indeed, global emissions continue to rise as burgeoning middle classes in India, China, and elsewhere buy cars. Those cars do not carry the same emissions and fuel standards common to the US, effectively rubbing out the improvements we have been seeing stateside.

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