The world of carbon emissions uses some unusual units of measure. Take, for example, 8.2 million megagrams. Who needs to know how much that is? Someone at Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, that's who. FCA had to buy that many greenhouse-gas emissions credits from greener automakers, Reuters says, citing a report from the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Because its vehicles' collective fuel economy continues to trail the industry average, FCA purchased the emissions credits at of the end of 2014 in order to meet US emissions regulations. About two-thirds of those credits were acquired from Toyota, while the rest were purchased from Tesla and Honda. Daimler and Ferrari, not surprisingly, were among the other automobile companies that had to acquire emissions credits in order to meet US greenhouse gas regulations. Because the price for these credits is set privately by the companies, the EPA didn't disclose how much FCA had to pay to stay on the green side.

The reason for the millions FCA likely spent is because the company is making a slow progress building and selling cleaner cars. The company did increase average fuel efficiency by about one mile per gallon to almost 22 mpg for the 2015 model year, but it wasn't enough. Such a performance likely only put the automaker in a last-place tie with General Motors.

The emissions credits purchased from Tesla are notable because that California-based maker of electric vehicles has long generated substantial revenue by selling various credits to its less-electrified counterparts. In 2013, Tesla sold more of California's ZEV credits than any other automaker, but Nissan took that title in 2014. While these are not the same as the EPA's GHG credits, they do offer another way to track which automakers are meeting the targets and which need help.

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