The United States is commonly regarded as a car-centric country, with cars being a dominant American mode of transport. U.S. infrastructure and road rules tend to privilege cars over other road users such as cyclists and pedestrians. Cars have been a major component of American culture, particularly since the 1950s.
Since 2009, the United States is home to the second largest passenger vehicle market of any country in the world, second to China. Overall, there were an estimated 263.6 million registered vehicles in the United States in 2015, most of which were passenger vehicles. This number, along with the average age of vehicles, has increased steadily since 1960. The United States is also home to three large vehicle manufacturers: General Motors, Ford Motor Company, and Chrysler, which have historically been referred to as the “Big Three“.
Overall passenger vehicles have been outnumbering licensed drivers since 1972 at an ever-increasing rate, while light trucks and vehicles manufactured by foreign makes have gained a larger share of the automotive market in the United States. In 2001, 70% of Americans drove to work in cars. New York City is the only locality in the country where more than half of all households do not own a car.
Less than 1% of the 250 million cars, SUVs, and light-duty trucks on the road in the United States are electric. Getting drivers to switch from gas-powered to electric vehicles (EVs) is essential for the U.S. to become carbon-neutral by 2050. However, the fleet of hybrid electric vehicles in the country, with 5.8 million units sold through December 2020, is the second largest in the world after Japan (7.51 million by March 2018).
The Biden administration recently raised fuel-efficiency standards for passenger cars and light-duty trucks, saying the new standards will reduce pollution and save consumers billions of dollars at the gas pump. Automakers must meet a fleetwide average of 55 miles a gallon for cars and light trucks by the model year 2026, up from the 43-mpg standard set by the Trump administration for that year. The fleetwide mileage standard for the current 2021 model year is 40 mpg.
The new rules will save U.S. drivers between $210 billion and $420 billion in fuel costs through 2050, the Environmental Protection Agency said, based on government estimates of future fuel prices. Even after factoring in higher purchase prices for cleaner vehicles, each buyer would still save about $1,000 over the lifetime of their vehicle from the model year 2026 on, the EPA said.
The EPA said the higher standards will curb pollution from the transportation sector, which it says is the nation’s No. 1 source of greenhouse gas emissions.
On Aug. 25, California regulators adopted rules that would ban the sale of new gasoline-powered cars and light trucks by 2035.
This Post was submitted by Climate Scorecard Director Ron Israel