Two trillion gallons: Fuel savings from fuel economy improvements to US light-duty vehicles, 1975–2018

David Greene, Charles Sims, Matteo Muratori

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus Citations


Since 1975, the fuel economy of new light-duty vehicles sold in the U.S. has almost doubled. Fuel economy improvements on laboratory tests gradually became real improvements on the road as newer, more efficient vehicles replaced older less efficient ones. Fleet-wide fuel economy gains produced large fuel savings. In this paper, we show that fuel economy gains measured on laboratory test cycles, adjusted for on-road conditions and weighted by the distribution of vehicles by age and their relative use, closely match estimates by the Federal Highway Administration based primarily on traffic counts and motor fuel tax records. Adjusting for the rebound effect of fuel economy on vehicle miles traveled, we estimate the fuel savings, CO2 emissions reductions and dollars saved on fuel due to fuel economy improvements over the past 43 years. Through the end of 2018, estimated cumulative fuel savings amount to approximately 2 trillion gallons of gasoline. We estimate that roughly one-fifth of the savings can be attributed to gasoline price increases over the period and four-fifths to fuel economy and greenhouse gas (ghg) standards.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number111517
Number of pages13
JournalEnergy Policy
StatePublished - 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 Elsevier Ltd

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5400-76184


  • CAFE standards
  • Energy efficiency
  • Fuel economy
  • ghg regulations
  • Light-duty vehicles
  • Rebound effect


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