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March 5, 2020

Honda Overtakes Mazda as Most Fuel-Efficient Carmaker

If you’re looking for the most fuel-efficient full-line automaker, look no further than Honda. In its annual EPA Automotive Trends Report, the U.S.-based Environmental Protection Agency or EPA says Honda had the highest fleet average fuel economy of any major fuel-line automaker for the MY2018 model year, the latest year for which full data is available.

Discounting Tesla which had an all-electric line-up, Honda ranked first among full-line automakers with a U.S. fleet average “real world” fuel economy of 12.75 km/L—a five-year improvement of 1.19 km/L, and 2.08 km/L above the industry average. They also had the biggest five-year improvement. Surprisingly, Subaru and Mazda are tied at second place with a corporate average of 12.20 km/L. Hyundai is fourth, with Kia in fifth.

This is how car brands measure up:

Interestingly, the EPA notes that in the past ten-year period, vehicles have increased in horsepower (14 percent). That said, fuel economy is still up 30 percent, while emissions are down 23 percent. And despite the increasing size and standard equipment of modern cars, their curb weight has been generally constant. 2018 though did see the highest rise in average new vehicle weight due to increased safety standard requirements.

The EPA notes that carmakers have taken various steps to curb their car’s fuel consumption. Among the technologies that they’ve used are turbocharging, direct-injection, cylinder deactivation, idle start/stop, and of course, electrification. Moreover, more and more carmakers are adopting CVTs to improve fuel efficiency.

For the MY2018 model year, this is how carmakers shape up in terms of drivetrain technologies:

Note: CVT (Continously Variable Transmission), CD (Cylinder Deactivitaion), PHEV/EV/FCV (Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle/Electric Vehicle/Fuel Cell Vehicle).

Finally, the EPA also notes the increased consumer preference towards car-based SUVs and truck-based SUVs.

Combined, they account for 46 percent of the total U.S. market in 2018. Thankfully, carmakers have been registering improvements to their fuel economy. This is how each type of vehicle stacks up:

  • Sedan/Wagons – 30.8 MPG (13.09 km/L)
  • Car-based SUV – 27.3 MPG (11.60 km/L)
  • Truck-based SUV – 23.1 MPG (9.82 km/L)
  • Minivans/Vans – 22.8 MPG (9.69 km/L)
  • Pickup Trucks – 19.1 MPG (8.12 km/L)

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