There’s good news in your gas tank.
The EPA reports that gas mileage for 2017 cars (the numbers are always one year behind) was the best ever. Cars, trucks, SUVs – put ‘em all together and the average mpg for everything that rolls was 24.9 (and the estimates for last year look like even better mileage for 2018 models).
Want more good news? Not only was mileage up, but emissions were down (if you’re a numbers person, that “adds up” to a decrease of 3 grams of CO2 per mile. That number is also expected to go down again by even more when the 2018 totals are in.).
What’s that all about? Three key explanations:
- Less weight – thanks largely to more use of strong, lightweight polymers made from petrochemicals. On the outside, you’ll find bumpers and body parts, for example, made from polypropylene. Inside, insulation and seat cushions and instrument panels from polymers like polyurethane and polyvinyl chloride. The petrochemical “parents” for those polymers? Ethylene, propylene and toluene.
- Smarter engines – like Chevy’s new Silverado, with an eight-cylinder engine that can cycle all the way down to just one cylinder, when you need less power (and using less gas) – and like Mazda’s new Skyactiv-X engine, which combines the traditional spark plug with the compression of a diesel engine, allowing it to use a leaner fuel mix (aka, less gas).
- Better fuels – refiners have been tweaking gasoline and diesel fuels to squeeze more miles out of each gallon (and to make each of those miles cleaner, by reducing emissions).
Read more about transportation and fuels…
And all that hard work from car makers and fuel makers adds up to today’s cars, trucks and SUVs – continuing to get us where we need to go, more efficiently and cleanly than ever before. That’s a pretty good combination.