TOPICS / U.S. passenger vehicle technology trends

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Under efficiency standards adopted in 2012, the U.S. passenger vehicle fleet must achieve an average fuel economy of 49.1 miles per gallon in 2025, or 54.5 mpg as measured in terms of carbon dioxide emissions with various credits for additional climate benefits factored in. While the fleet-average targets will change—the regulation provides for recalculating the fuel economy targets annually based on the mix of cars, pickups, and SUVs actually sold—they will still represent an average energy-efficiency improvement of 4.1% per year.

Automakers have responded by developing fuel-saving technologies even more rapidly and at lower cost than the U.S. EPA and NHTSA projected in 2011–2012, when the supporting analyses for the 2017–2025 rule were developed. In particular, innovations in conventional (as opposed to hybrid or electric) power trains and vehicle body design are significantly outpacing initial expectations.

The ICCT collaborated with automotive suppliers in a series of working papers that highlights many of the important innovations and trends in those conventional technologies.

The ICCT then summarized each working paper in a series of technology briefs, with additional assessment of the policy implications of the technological improvements. (The hybrid brief was written solely by the ICCT, but, like the others, is detailed technology assessment.)

Most Recent

Efficiency technology and cost assessment for U.S. 2025–2030 light-duty vehicles
Analyzes emerging vehicle-efficiency technologies with respect to cost and capacity to lower carbon emissions from passenger cars and light-duty trucks in the 2025–2030 time frame.  
White paper
Lightweighting technology developments
Highlights important innovations and trends in vehicle design technology and lightweighting, many of which were not considered when the 2025 CAFE standards were finalized, but promise to be quite cost-effective.
Briefing
Downsized, boosted gasoline engines
This technical brief highlights important innovations and trends in downsized and turbocharged gasoline engines, several of which were not considered when the 2025 CAFE standards were finalized, but promise to be quite cost-...
Briefing
 

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  • Efficiency technology and cost assessment for U.S. 2025–2030 light-duty vehicles (2017.03.22)

    Analyzes emerging vehicle-efficiency technologies with respect to cost and capacity to lower carbon emissions from passenger cars and light-duty trucks in the 2025–2030 time frame.  

  • Lightweighting technology developments (2017.03.07)

    Highlights important innovations and trends in vehicle design technology and lightweighting, many of which were not considered when the 2025 CAFE standards were finalized, but promise to be quite cost-effective.

  • Downsized, boosted gasoline engines (2016.12.22)

    This technical brief highlights important innovations and trends in downsized and turbocharged gasoline engines, several of which were not considered when the 2025 CAFE standards were finalized, but promise to be quite cost-effective.

  • Lightweighting technology development and trends in U.S. passenger vehicles (2016.12.19)

    Advances in lightweighting (mass-reduction) designs and technology have surpassed projections made for the U.S. 2025 vehicle CAFE/GHG standard. Overall, weight reduction of ~15% should be feasible by 2025, at costs about one-third of 2012 estimates.

  • Automotive thermal management technology (2016.11.15)

    Highlights developments in technologies that contribute to vehicle fuel efficiency by improving control of heat in the powertrain and the passenger cabin. Few thermal management technologies were explicitly incorporated into the technology projections for the US 2025 CAFE standards.

  • Downsized, boosted gasoline engines (2016.10.28)

    An analysis of trends and developments in turbocharged, downsized gasoline engines since the 2017–2025 light duty GHG/CAFE rule written by EPA and NHTSA in 2012.

  • Transmissions (2016.10.26)

    One in a series of technical briefs highlighting important innovations and trends in transmissions, which, overall, are similar to efficiency benefits and cost projections made at the time the 2025 CAFE standards were finalized.

  • Automotive thermal management technology (2016.10.04)

    An analysis of trends and developments in thermal management technology since the 2017–2025 light duty GHG/CAFE rule written by EPA and NHTSA in 2012.

  • Transmissions (2016.08.29)

    This paper provides an analysis of transmission technology development and trends, and compares them to the projections made by EPA and NHTSA for the 2025 CAFE regulation.

  • Naturally Aspirated Engines (2016.06.21)

    One in a series of technical briefs highlighting important innovations and trends in "conventional" automotive technologies, which are significantly outpacing projections made at the time the 2025 CAFE standards were finalized.

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