Nov 22, 2021 - Energy & Environment

Fuel efficiency progress "is stalling" because of growth of SUVs

Average fuel consumption of new light-duty vehicles sold
Data: Global Fuel Economy Initiative/IEA; Chart: Jacque Schrag/Axios

A new(ish) analysis shows that "fuel economy progress is stalling" amid the growing global popularity of SUVs and light trucks.

Driving the news: The joint report from the Global Fuel Economy Initiative (GFEI) and the International Energy Agency takes stock of where things stand through 2019, the last year with comparative data.

What they're saying: "The average rated fuel consumption of new light-duty vehicles fell by only 0.9% between 2017 and 2019...to 7.1 litres of gasoline equivalent per 100 kilometres," the report notes. That's far below the 1.8% annual average decline between 2010 and 2015.

  • It's nowhere near the pace needed for GFEI's goal of cutting the fuel consumption of new light-duty vehicles in half by 2030, relative to 2005 levels.
  • The group is a partnership between the United Nations, International Council on Clean Transportation and others.
  • The intrigue: "Increasing vehicle size and power has eroded as much as 40% of the fuel consumption improvements that would otherwise have occurred thanks to technical advances in vehicles and engines."

The big picture: Getting on a better fuel consumption path requires stronger electric vehicle deployment policies, but also faster adoption of advanced efficiency tech for internal combustion engines.

  • The report lays out ideas in areas like policy design for efficiency and CO2 standards, phasing out fuel subsidies, harmonizing standards across nations to lower costs and more.

Go deeper: Energy efficiency gains are too slow for a sustainable climate path

Go deeper