General Motors’ fleetwide fuel economy average dropped by half a percentage point in 2019.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, GM’s fleetwide fuel economy average fell from 23 mpg in 2018 to 22.5 mpg in 2019. This tied GM with crosstown rival Fiat Chrysler, which saw its fleetwide fuel economy dip to 21.2 mpg 2019, a noticeable improvement over its 21.7 mpg 2018 fleetwide average. While GM and FCA managed to reduce their fleetwide fuel economy averages, Ford’s actually increased by 0.1 percent to 22.5 mpg.
The fleetwide fuel economy average for the entire auto industry in the U.S. in 2019 was 24.9 mpg, which represents a 0.2 mpg increase over the 2018 average. The EPA says that consumers’ rising preference for larger crossovers, trucks and SUVs was the main contributor to the industry-wide increase. Average vehicle weight and average horsepower output also reached record highs in 2019, the EPA said, and it expects those averages to climb even further for 2020.
Additionally, GM purchased 10.7 million carbon credits from competitors in 2019. A carbon credit is a tradeable permit that is given to a company or automaker that pollutes. If the company does not need all of its carbon credits, it may sell them to another automaker that may need them to avoid paying fines. Tesla, which only makes electric vehicles, was the biggest seller of carbon credits in 2019, offloading 39.8 megagrams worth of them. FCA, with its gas-guzzling muscle cars, trucks and SUVs, purchased a whopping 82.1 million carbon credits in 2019, significantly more than any other automaker.
In addition to Tesla, Honda and Toyota also made good money selling carbon credits, with the Japanese automakers offloading 40 million and 33.8 million credits in 2019, respectively. GM and Honda are working hand-in-hand on clean vehicle propulsion technology, including hydrogen fuel cell and battery-electric vehicles.
While the shift to larger crossovers, trucks and SUVs caused fleetwide fuel economy averages to dip in 2019, the EPA is confident things will improve in 2021. The agency says fleetwide average fuel economy will sit at a record 25.7 mpg for the 2020 model year as automakers continue to make improvements to their internal combustion engine vehicles and release more plug-in auctions and EVs. GM, for its part, plans to release 30 new EVs between now and 2025.