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Generally, increased performance comes as a trade-off with fuel economy. But light vehicle manufacturers have been able to employ advanced technologies to improve both performance and fuel economy. Despite a 123% increase in horsepower and 48% improvement in acceleration (measured by time to accelerate from 0 to 60 miles per hour) from model year 1980 to 2017, the fuel economy of vehicles improved 31%. The data are based on production-weighted averages. In the 1990s and early 2000s, fuel economy decreased while vehicle weight increased. Fuel economy has improved nearly every year since 2004.

Graph showing characteristics of new light vehicles from 1980 to 2017. Characteristics include horsepower, fuel economy, weight, and acceleration.

Note: Data are production-weighted averages for each model year and do not represent any individual vehicle. Data for model year 2017 are preliminary.

Source: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Light-Duty Automotive Technology, Carbon Dioxide Emissions, and Fuel Economy Trends: 1975 through 2017, EPA-420-S-18-001, January 2018.

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