Improve Vehicle Efficiency

Cars and trucks take a heavy toll on public health and the environment, burning fuel and producing pollution that has been linked to respiratory disease and climate change. Using gasoline and diesel as efficiently as possible would reduce those impacts, yet for decades, the average American car achieved less than 22 miles per gallon.

It wasn't the technological know-how that was lacking. It was the motivation.

Frank Lukasseck/Corbis

In recent years, NRDC has helped the United States blow past those limits. Our policy experts helped California and other states set standards to reduce carbon pollution from tailpipes, and our litigators defended those standards in court. In 2012 we helped broker a deal with automakers, unions, and government agencies to adopt 54.5 miles–per–gallon fuel-efficiency standards by 2025.

This will cut carbon pollution from new cars in half and save drivers $90 billion a year at the pump. It will also put more Americans to work. A 2011 NRDC report found that deploying clean and efficient vehicle technologies—things like turbochargers, improved transmissions, and advanced batteries—employed more than 150,000 people in 43 states and Washington, D.C.

Medium- and heavy-duty trucks can also save more fuel. The U.S. truck fleet released 530 million metric tons of carbon pollution in 2013—about the same as 95 million cars—and truck traffic is on the rise. NRDC helped secure the first round of fuel-efficiency standards for trucks in 2011, and we are pushing for a strong second phase. By 2025, tough standards could cut fuel consumption in new trucks by at least 40 percent compared to 2010 levels.

As manufacturers gear up to meet new efficiency standards, NRDC is advocating for additional ways to save fuel right now. We educate people about simple steps that can save the average driver about $800 on gas per year. And we push for a set of efficiency and transit policies that would save 10 million barrels of oil per day by 2030.

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