Yes, emissions controls and powertrain improvements have gone a long way in improving auto emissions, but it seems we still manage to lag behind our counterparts overseas. A JATO study has revealed that U.S. vehicular traffic is emitting nearly 90-percent more emissions on average versus the statistics out of Europe and Japan.
Using recently collected automotive sales and registration data, JATO determined the U.S. emits an average of 0.953 pound of CO2 per mile driven, a slight improvement over last year's figure. When compared to Europe's five biggest markets and Japan, the difference between the entities is quite apparent with Japan raising the bar to 0.464 pound per mile and Europe touching 0.498 pound per mile. Even in an apples-to-apples comparison, excluding pickup trucks, full-size vans, and small commercial vehicles to align with the European and Japanese numbers, the U.S. emissions average drops to just 0.907 pounds per mile.
What's the key to the lower emissions? In Japan, small and economical gasoline-powered cars are popular and help to curb fuel consumption and emissions output. The European market is buoyed by the diesel engine, which enjoys a sterling 48.9-percent market share and strictly monitored emissions levels. On our side, the data points to bigger-displacement powerplants as the culprit for our CO2-related woes.
"It is still clear that American consumers need to undergo a fundamental re-think of their vehicle buying preferences, but the past period of economic upheaval is likely to have meant that other domestic issues have taken consumer's priority", said David Mitchell, president of JATO Americas. "The blame can't just lie with consumers though, the OEM product offering in the US still does little to promote alternatives to the large engine capacity gasoline vehicles which still dominate the market."
Key study numbers
Diesel market share -- Europe (48.9 percent), Japan (0.11 percent), U.S. (1.7 percent)
Hybrid market share -- Europe (0.5 percent), Japan (10.1 percent), U.S. (2.3 percent
Vehicles sold with 15-20 mpg rating -- Europe (0.28 percent), Japan (0.63 percent), U.S. (33.9 percent)