Here’s a chart about cars, showing the changes since 1975 in some key dynamics about how cars use energy and how big they are. It’s from the EPA’s latest report on automotive trends, and it pegs these three variables at 1975 levels, charting the changes.
Check it out:
As you can see, there were big changes in the late 1970s, during the oil crisis, where cars became smaller and more fuel efficient relatively quickly.
Since then, though, personal vehicles in the US have been getting heavier and more powerful at a steady pace. Fuel economy, on the other hand, has seen improvements since about 2004. (Thanks, Obama.)
Here’s are some key points from the report:
The overall market continues to move towards both car SUVs and truck SUVs. Combined, car and truck SUVs captured a record high 43% market share in model year 2017. … All five vehicle types are at or near record low CO2 emissions and record high fuel economy and have steadily improved in recent years. However, the market shift towards SUVs and away from sedan/wagons has offset some of the fleetwide benefits that otherwise would have been achieved from the increased fuel economy within each vehicle type.
However, since model year 2004 technology has been used to increase fuel economy (up 29%) and power (up 11%), while maintaining vehicle weight and reducing CO2 emissions (down 23%). The improvement in CO2 emissions and fuel economy since 2004 is due to many factors, including gasoline prices, consumer preference, and increasing stringency of NHTSA light-duty car and truck CAFE standards.
Check out the whole report online.