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Four-cylinder engine cars are the majority of cars on the road today

December 20, 2016 by Marty Miller

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Experian’s latest Market Trends and Loyalty report shows that for the first time in history, cars with four-cylinder engines have outpaced any other
light-duty vehicle type on the road. That’s because the auto industry has been hard at work the past two decades improving both power and fuel efficiency of its engines. Auto manufacturers have been given aggressive fuel efficiency targets (54.5 mpg by 2025), but still need to meet consumer demand for performance.

The net result is today’s average four-cylinder engine (188.1 hp) actually has more horsepower than the average V8 from 20 years ago (188 hp). It has helped four-cylinder engines become the most prominent engine type on the road, according to Experian Automotive Vehicles in Operation (VIO) database. Of the vehicles on the road, 37.7 percent are being powered by a four-cylinder engine, compared to 37.6 percent of six-cylinder engines.

The top five vehicles at both the VIO and registration levels shows that all but one have four-cylinder engines.

Top segments
Total VIO Q3 vehicle registrations
1.       Full-size pickup 1.       Entry-level CUV
2.       Standard midrange car 2.       Full-size pickup
3.       Small economy car 3.       Small economy car
4.       Lower midrange car 4.       Standard midrange car
5.       Entry-level CUV 5.       Lower midrange car

The four-cylinder VIO market share growth will continue in the future. In 2016, for example, four-cylinder engines accounted for 54.2 percent of all engines in new vehicles sold. It is the fifth consecutive year that four-cylinder engines had more than 50 percent market share. Market share for six-cylinder engines has dropped from 32.5 percent in 2012 to 29.7 percent in 2016, while eight-cylinder engines have dropped from 16.1 percent to 12.1 percent.