We're looking at you, Detroit.
There's good news and bad news on fuel economy, actually two pieces of bad news. First, the good. For 2020, new vehicle fuel economy was up to 25.4 miles per gallon, the highest it's ever been. Unfortunately projected fuel economy for 2021 will be down a tenth, to 25.3 mpg. We seem to be headed in the wrong direction, slightly. Additionally, the three US automakers, Ford, GM and Stellantis, are at the bottom of the list.
GM had an average of 23 mpg last year, well below average, and is expected to drop to 21.5 mpg for 2021. Ford is expected to drop from 23 mpg average to 22.7 though Stellantis goes up. In 2020 it had an average of 21.3 mpg and is expected to get to 21.6 this year.
Those aren't the only automakers down, due to the increasing sales of less-efficient pickups and SUVs. The Big Three are joined by Subaru, who's down a tenth, Toyota, who lost 0.9 mpg on average and Mazda, who is expected to be down a half an mpg for 2021. The difference is those players were all well above average, and will be next year too.
Hyundai and Kia (who just introduced an SUV-sized EV) are both ahead of last year's numbers. BMW stays the same at 25.5 mpg, still above average, and Mercedes adds more than a half mpg too, to a fleetwide average of 24 mpg. Honda and Hyundai are tied for the best average combined mpg at 29, though Honda dropped a tenth to get there. Tesla, selling only electric vehicles, is on a whole different part of the chart, as its "real-world mpg" is above 100.
Generally, there is reason to celebrate. Carbon dioxide emissions are down, and fuel economy is way up since 2004. And we can guess that after a few more hiccup years, it will go up farther and faster as more automakers adopt EVs, which seems to be happening.
Our question is, which Detroit automaker will jump to average first. We have to think Ford, as it's been making quick moves in the space for the last few years, starting with the Mustang Mach-E. Of course, GM and Chevy have the Bolt, but that's experiencing problems too. We know it won't be Stellantis. It just added horsepower to an already insane muscle car. We'll check back in next November.