Trends in Technical Efficiency Trade-Offs for the U.S. Light Vehicle Fleet
Technology change can yield some combination of changes in fuel economy, performance, size, or other characteristics that influence the fleetwide fuel consumption. Thus, engineering progress can be manifest in multiple ways, reflected in the view that technical efficiency may improve even when fuel economy does not. This analysis quantifies underlying technical efficiency gains that reflect trade-offs between fuel economy and other attributes of light vehicles. Prior analyses yielded estimates of technical efficiency trends ranging from 1% per year to nearly 4% per year. Few analyses revealed consistent trends; most identify periods when progress was made at different rates. Using fleetwide (aggregate) data for U.S. light vehicles, exploratory data analysis and correlation techniques were applied to examine trends in energy-related variables. Individual trends for all variables are uneven over time.