|CO2 reduction from EVs compared to CO2 emissions increase from higher light truck sales,
light-duty fleet average changes from 2012 through 2021.
Last year's analysis examined data through model year 2019; EPA's most recent Automotive Trends report includes preliminary data through model year 2021. Combining those data with plug-in electric vehicle (PEV) sales reports from Argonne National Laboratory (ANL, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy) enables an updated calculation. The methodology used is the same as that described in last year's post.
The market share of EVs (counting pure plug-in battery electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids, but not gasoline-only hybrids) reached 4.2% in 2021, up from the 2% share in 2019. But 2021 also saw the light truck share of the new LDV fleet reaching a record high of 61% (using EPA's classifications, which count small, front-wheel-drive SUVs as cars while counting all other SUVs as well as pickups and minivans as light trucks).
The calculation shown here tracks progress since 2012. That year is selected as the baseline because it was when the Obama Administration finalized strong fuel economy and GHG emission ("clean car") standards. That year also saw a number of significant EV introductions even though plug-in vehicle sales were still quite small. The ANL data indicated that EVs represented just 0.4% of new LDV sales in 2012. Thus, over the nine years through 2021, EV market share has increased by an order of magnitude (to the aforementioned 4.2%).
The EPA data show the overall fleet-average new LDV CO2 emission rate fell by 7.7%, from 377 g/mi in 2012 to the 348 g/mi preliminary estimate for 2021. That's a decline of only about 1% per year, much less than the 4%-5% annual reduction hoped for with the GHG standards issued in 2012. The reasons for this large shortfall in carbon-cutting progress include the weakening of the standards by the Trump administration as well as the market shift from cars to light trucks and the general upsizing within each class, which relax the effective stringency of the standards that automakers must meet.
As was the case for last year's version of this analysis, it excludes the effect of the largest pickups. These ever-more-massive and powerful, ¾-ton and 1-ton pickups are omitted from EPA's public reports. Including these large, luxurious personal trucks would make the emissions gap even larger.