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American cars dirtier than Europe or Japan
JATO Dynamics, the world’s leading provider of automotive data and intelligence today reports that the US car market is still significantly behind Europe and Japan in terms of reducing vehicle CO2output.

JATO’s study of the US light vehicle market in the first quarter of 2010 reveals that the market’s average CO2is 268.5 g/km. In order to reflect like-for-like comparison with car markets in other global regions, excluding pick-up trucks, full size vans and small commercial vehicles the figure falls to 255.6 g/km. This figure compares very unfavourably to Japan (130.8 g/km) and Europe’s five biggest markets, which average 140.3 g/km. All markets have improved marginally when compared to the full-year average in 2009; Japan is down 0.4 g/km, the USA is down 1.0 g/km and Europe has improved most significantly with a 4.3 g/km reduction year-to-date.

“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”, says 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.”

One of the key influences in other global markets, the cost of fuel, still remains comparatively low in the US and this removes one of the most significant drivers for change. 33.9% of vehicles sold in the US still fall within a 15-20 mpg consumption bracket, compared with only 0.28% in Europe and 0.63% in Japan. European average CO2 emissions have reduced most significantly thanks to the rising popularity of diesel, a fuel which has 48.9% of the market share. Japan has a tiny diesel share of only 0.11%, but its highly congested roads make very small and economical gasoline cars a popular choice. Currently, the USA market is dominated by gasoline which has 81.9% market share, with only 1.7% being diesel.

“An interesting point to note, is that American consumers have been significantly more inclined to adopt Hybrid technology than the Europeans”, says Mitchell. “Hybrids have 2.3% market share in the US, while in Europe it is still only 0.5%. Not surprisingly, Japan leads the way with 10.1% of market share going to Hybrids”.

These regional variances can in part be put down to varyingCO2-based taxation regimes that reward or penalise certain technologies, while Japan’s high-technology driven economy will automatically favour new technologies such as Hybrid and electric vehicles. Additionally, European vehicle ‘scrappage’ schemes have contributed significantly to the introduction into circulation of a huge number of low polluting, fuel efficient small cars - something that “cash for clunkers” didn’t do to the same effect.

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