September 4, 2007

Study shows U.S. still stalled on global warming pollution; only Toyota and BMW cut CO2 rates

Washington, D.C. – A new study on U.S. auto emissions by the nonprofit organization Environmental Defense says that although the rate of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions has dipped for the first time in two decades, it has risen 73 per cent since 1970, due to a steady rise in driving, a decline in fuel economy and no progress on truly renewable, low-carbon fuels.

The report looks at the automakers’ overall “carbon burden”, which reflects the efficiency of vehicles, the carbon intensity of the fuel they run on, and new vehicle sales. The study shows that while average CO2 emissions from new vehicles fell three percent from 2004 to 2005, it remains up a net 1.5 percent since 1990.

Leading the trend were GM, Ford and DaimlerChrysler, which all saw a net worsening of their fleet-average CO2 emissions. In spite of rising light truck sales, Toyota and BMW were the only two carmakers that cut their average per-vehicle CO2 emissions rate. The report says that Toyota achieved significant reductions through incremental improvements on conventional technology in the Corolla, whose strong sales provided a bigger impact on CO2 cuts through 2005 than the Prius hybrid, while BMW lowered its CO2 emissions with the Mini Cooper, in addition to other fuel efficiency improvements.

Some of the key findings of the report on the six largest automakers include:

  • General Motors’ new fleet average CO2 emissions rate was three per cent higher in 2005 than it was in 1990, while market share dropped 10 points. Rising light truck share and flex-fuel (FFV) credits more than offset the recent increases in the fuel economy of many GM models.
  • Ford’s market share dropped 7 points from 1990 to 2005, leading to a 5.8 per cent drop in carbon burdens; heavy use of FFV credits caused a 4.3 per cent increase in fleet average CO2 emissions rate, accounting for most of Ford’s total 4.7 per cent increase in emissions rate.
  • DaimlerChrysler’s CO2 emissions rate was up 4.8 percent from 1990 levels, the worst among all automakers, as a result of higher truck share and net lower fuel economy. Of all automakers, DaimlerChrysler had the greatest dependence on trucks.
  • Toyota’s CO2 emissions rate decreased three percent, while its market share rose seven points from 1990 to 2005. Its carbon burden growth, the greatest among the six, was due entirely to increased sales.
  • Honda remained the fuel economy leader, with a combined car and light truck average of 29 mpg U.S. (8.0 L/100 km), but its rapidly growing truck fraction pushed its CO2 emissions rate up 4.4 percent while market share gained 1.6 points from 1990 to 2005.

  • Nissan’s growing reliance on trucks and declining truck fuel economy pushed its CO2 emissions rate up 9.2 per cent, the highest of the six, while the company gained two market share points from 1990 to 2005.

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