The U.S. Has Quietly Made Some Remarkable Advances in Fuel-Efficiency

In 1975, large­ly in response to OPEC’s oil embar­go against the Unit­ed States, Con­gress enact­ed a new ener­gy law that includ­ed pro­vi­sions to increase “Cor­po­rate Aver­age Fuel Econ­o­my.” These CAFE stan­dards, as they’re known, led to a remark­able jump in the fuel effi­cien­cy for the U.S. auto fleet, with a near dou­bling of fuel econ­o­my and a 50 per­cent jump for light trucks in just a decade. But fed­er­al pol­i­cy­mak­ers cod­dled the auto indus­try in the 1970s, and by the 1980s the fuel-effi­cien­cy curve had plateaued.

Read more about the impres­sive advances in fuel effi­cien­cy in this insight­ful arti­cle from CityLab’s series on The Future of Trans­porta­tion.

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