FCA US had the highest level of carbon dioxide emissions of any major US automaker for the fourth consecutive year.
In its report Light-Duty Automotive Technology, Carbon Dioxide Emissions, and Fuel Economy Trends: 1975 Through 2015, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) found that vehicles produced by FCA US in the 2014 model year averaged 428 grams of CO2 per mile, 38 grams more than General Motors, its closest competitor.
Car companies are looking at a 163 gram/mile cap in 2025, which means it has about nine years to cut CO2 emissions by 62% or face stiff penalties.
FCA US had the worst fuel economy of any major US automaker, coming in at 20.8 miles per gallon, 0.1 mpg less than in the 2013 model year, primarily due to its dependence on light truck sales. Ford and General Motors tied at 22.8 mpg, but both companies improved over their 2013 ratings.
The most sought after Mopars — Ram trucks, Jeeps, and SRTs —contribute to the problem. The Challenger SRT Hellcat (stick), for example, pumps out 566 grams/mile of carbon dioxide — worse than a Ram 1500 Hemi — and the popular Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8 produces nearly 600 grams of CO2 per mile.
Allpar data showed that 77% of FCA US 2014 sales were from minivans, SUVs, and pickups, the highest truck share of the major automakers. As the market continued to shift from cars to crossovers, FCA’s truck share increased over the 2015 calendar year to 84% in December 2015.
As a result of all this, FCA US is the largest buyer of carbon credits. According to the EPA, FCA bought over one million credits in 2014 alone and a total of 8.1 million from 2010 to 2014.
While some of the proposed 2025 standards will be reviewed and, likely, revised in 2018, the target will be still be a test for FCA. Bloomberg News wrote that some analysts question whether FCA can survive on its own. Fiat has economical cars, but can’t seem to sell them; and FCA US has had problems selling its high-mileage Dart Aero.
FCA US has many solutions. The plug-in hybrid system in the Pacifica appears to be relatively easy to engineer into other vehicles, and stop-start systems are planned for more cars. The company has cut parasitic losses, and is bringing itself up to date on fuel-saving technologies, including those long used by FCA Italy.
FCA US has slashed its air conditioning leakage by an average of 14 grams/mile equivalent in 2014, reaping six million Mg in credits, nearly a quarter of the industry total. In 2014, they made 540,098 vehicles out of 628,347 in the industry with the greenhouse-gas-friendly HFO-1234yf refrigerant.
FCA US loses money on electric cars, but it can make them for California and other states, as shown by the Fiat 500e; and it has cut carbon dioxide emissions in trucks faster than the industry average, at least from 2013 to 2014.
The future still has problems for FCA US, including paying millions to competitors for emissions credits which are likely to grow pricier as time goes on, but analysts who do not pay attention to signals from within the company may be overly pessimistic.
[Note: Final emissions and economy data are likely to be worse for almost all automakers in 2015 as consumers eschewed passenger cars for less-efficient crossovers.]
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