EUF > Policy Analysis > Fuel Economy Improvements in 1992 Honda Civic

The Cost-Effectiveness of Fuel Economy Improvements in 1992 Honda Civic Hatchbacks

Project Description

Since the early 1980s, both U.S. auto makers and policy makers have resisted policies to increase automobile fuel economy, arguing in part that such increases were neither technically feasible nor economically justified. The purpose of this project was to assess such assertions using a specific example. In a paper based on our research, we analyze fuel economy improvements in 1992 Honda Civic hatchbacks. The 1992 Hondas were virtually identical to the 1991 models in size, vehicle amenity, engine power, and performance, but offered substantially increased fuel economy and improved safety.

In our paper, we assess the cost of improving fuel economy using actual retail prices, after correcting for differences in cosmetic features. Our calculations show that the 1992 Civic DX was 56% more efficient than the 1991 model. This improved fuel economy was achieved at a cost of 77¢ per conserved gallon of gasoline - 30% less than the levelized gasoline price without externalities or taxes. In addition, a comparison of two other Civic models reveals that fuel economy was improved in the 1992 version at no additional cost. Virtually all of the efficiency increases described in our paper were achieved through measures that did not affect safety or vehicle size, such as engine modifications, transmission alterations, and drag reduction.

Project Staff

Jonathan Koomey

Key Data

Comparison of the 1992 Civic DX and VX to the 1991 Civic DX.

Comparison of the 1992 Civic CX to the 1991 Civic hatchback.


Koomey, Jonathan G., Deborah Schechter, and Deborah Gordon. 1993. "Cost-Effectiveness of Fuel Economy Improvements in 1992 Honda Civic Hatchbacks." Berkeley, CA: Energy and Resources Group, University of California. May. Abstract | 156K PDF

Other Resources

Transportation Energy and Environmental Policy Analysis: The LBNL Energy Analysis Department houses a team of analysts who focus on automobile emissions and trends in motor vehicle usage.

Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) Center for Transportation Analysis: ORNL has lots of useful data and analysis on the U.S. transportation sector, including the Transportation Energy Data Book and the Nationwide Personal Transportation Survey.

DOE's Office of Transportation Technologies: This part of DOE focuses on advanced efficiency and alternative fuel technologies for transportation.

EPA's Office of Mobile Sources: This part of EPA focuses on pollutant emissions from light-duty vehicles,buses, heavy-duty trucks, lawn equipment, watercraft, and aircraft.