United States

United States

The United States pioneered the regulation of vehicle air pollutant emissions and fuel economy in the 1960s and 1970s, and it has carried on since then with far-sighted, well-designed, effective regulations and policies to control air pollution from light-duty and heavy-duty vehicles, push manufacturers to design and build more efficient cars and trucks, and promote renewable and low-carbon fuels and zero-emission vehicles. Over that half-century it has also seen policy ambition ebb and flow, as the initiative has passed from one group of stakeholders to another. With a dynamic economy driving innovation in engineering, design, manufacturing, and information technology, it remains an essential testing ground—and proving ground—for clean vehicle and fuels policy.

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About the program

The United States pioneered the regulation of vehicle air pollutant emissions and fuel economy in the 1960s and 1970s, and it has carried on since then with far-sighted, well-designed, effective regulations and policies to control air pollution from light-duty and heavy-duty vehicles, push manufacturers to design and build more efficient cars and trucks, and promote renewable and low-carbon fuels and zero-emission vehicles. Over that half-century it has also seen policy ambition ebb and flow, as the initiative has passed from one group of stakeholders to another. With a dynamic economy driving innovation in engineering, design, manufacturing, and information technology, it remains an essential testing ground—and proving ground—for clean vehicle and fuels policy.

ICCT staff engage with federal, state, and local governments, as well as industry and other stakeholders, to shape practical and cost-effective policies for clean vehicles and fuels and defend and extend the public policy achievements of the past decade. Our research has established reliable technology baselines and development trends for fuel-efficiency in conventional light-duty and heavy-duty vehicles. We assembled the first comprehensive, city-level dataset on public policies and public investments for electric vehicles, and a key part of our research agenda is to enable data-driven assessment of developments and policy in new mobility and electric-drive vehicles. We provide technical advice and analysis in support of low-carbon fuels initiatives, and our airline-ranking series created a sound quantitative basis for extending debate over aviation carbon emissions even beyond questions of aircraft design.

The truth about U.S. passenger car technology

John German, ICCT senior fellow, discusses how the designs of various midsize sedans have changed from model year (MY) 2010 to MY 2018 and how that relates to the U.S. 2025 passenger vehicle fuel economy standards.

The 2018 Camry, for example, is already exceeding the 2022 target. Toyota is that far ahead of the game in meeting the standards without even including any credits because there are already so many technologies available. Therefore, the U.S. fuel economy trends really reflect a business strategy, not a technology challenge.

The 2018 Camry redesign included only modest weight reduction and the base engine did not include any kind of hybridization, not even a stop/start system. Yet the fuel economy for the standard engine improved by more than 20%. Toyota accomplished this primarily by developing an engine (Dynamic Force Engine) with very high efficiency.

—See U.S. passenger vehicle technology trends

Recent publications

Comparison of fuel-efficiency technology deployment in passenger cars in China, Europe, and the United States

This briefing compares the fleet characteristics and fuel-efficiency technology deployment in China, Europe and the U.S. from 2010 to 2014. In addition, the briefing evaluates the response of the passenger vehicle market in China to the country’s fuel efficiency standards.

2018.06.15 | Briefing
Fuel consumption and emissions testing of a best-in-class tractor-trailer in the US

Experimentally investigates the fuel consumption of a best-in-class tractor-trailer in the United States through chassis dynamometer and track testing.

2018.05.15 | Consultant report
Fuel consumption testing of tractor-trailers in the European Union and the United States

Summarizes the results of a pioneering vehicle testing program aimed at comparing the fuel efficiency of selected tractor-trailers in Europe and the United States.

2018.05.15 | Briefing
See all publications

Staff blog

U.S. and Canada: On vehicle emissions compliance and enforcement, two feds are better than one

As both U.S. and Canada work to improve their C&E programs, we applaud their team effort to tackle air quality challenges, encourage them to continue to strengthen this partnership, and hope to see more such regional collaborations around the globe whenever the circumstances allow. Because when it comes to emission control in the highly integrated North American vehicle market, two feds are better than one.

How important is California to U.S. electric vehicle growth? Very!

Staff

Senior Fellow / Regional Co-Lead
Program Director / Regional Co-Lead
Senior Researcher