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 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

Development of specifications for heavy-duty tractor trucks in Canada and the United States

Survey of how features of Class 7 and 8 tractor trucks are specified for purchase in Canada and the United States

2018.10.23 | Working paper
Modernizing vehicle regulations for electrification

Summarizes existing regulatory practices and develops design principles to adapt vehicle efficiency standards in the 2020–2030 time frame to enable a transition to zero-emission vehicles over the 2030–2050 time frame

2018.10.21 | Briefing
U.S. Passenger Jets under ICAO’s CO2 Standard, 2018-2038

ICAO’s CO2 standard could be applied to in-service aircraft to promote additional fuel efficiency improvements from airlines.

2018.10.02 | Working paper
See all publications

Staff blog

What you don’t know can hurt you: European vacation edition

Finding the lowest carbon flight for a specific trip is more complicated than simply choosing the most fuel-efficient carrier.

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

Staff