Most 2012 Vehicles Met or Exceeded EPA Fuel Economy Standards

Apr 28, 2014 02:38 PM EDT | Matt Mercuro

The Environmental Protection Agency has released a report confirming that that cars and light trucks released during the 2012 model year "met or exceeded" federal standards for fuel economy and greenhouse gas emissions.

Vehicles released for the 2012 model year averaged 23.6 mpg, 1.2 mpg better than the 2011 model year, according to the latest EPA data. Preliminary data for 2013 shows a further 0.4 mpg increase in fuel economy, according to the EPA.

There were twice as many SUV vehicles that delivered at least 25 mpg and seven times as many car models at the 40 mpg mark or better in 2013 compared to five years ago.

Federal Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards call for increases in fuel economy for cars and light trucks to 35.5 mpg by 2016.

They also require increases in fuel economy for cars and light trucks to 54.5 mpg by 2025. So far it seems like companies are on the right track.

"EPA's greenhouse gas standards for light duty cars and trucks are already reducing the dangerous carbon emissions that contribute to climate change while saving consumers money at the pump, and strengthening our nation's energy security by relying less on foreign oil," said EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy in a statement.

An official determination of compliance with emissions regulations won't be made until 2015 for vehicles built in 2012, according to the EPA. The report does claim manufacturers have made "a good start" in meeting requirements however, and feels that most companies won't have any issues doing so by that time period.

The performance of specific manufactures varied, but on average the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions for 2012 vehicles was 9.8 grams per mile below the standard set, according to the EPA.

"Our first official glimpse at how the auto companies are doing shows that they are rising to the challenge of meeting these standards, and realizing these benefits for our families and our country," said McCarthy.

A number of manufacturers either met or exceeded the standards just by reducing tailpipe emissions, whereas others used a system of federally authorized "credits" that are given out for engineering advancements.

The most common way to earn credits so far includes: sales of flexible-fuel vehicles and improvements in air-conditioning systems, according to the EPA.

Manufacturers can also purchase credits from each other and apply them to their own averages.

Automakers that have taken advantage of that option includes: Chrysler, Ferrari and Mercedes-Benz. Honda, Nissan and Tesla were just a few of the automakers who sold credits, according to the EPA.

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