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Americans are Driving More, But Using Less Fuel

Study shows vehicles are more fuel efficient than ever.

by on Aug.05, 2013

Americans are driving more, but using less gasoline due to improved fuel efficiency.

Americans continue to drive more as the economy recovers but even so, they’re using less fuel according to a new study from the University of Michigan.

In addition, despite a surge in pickup truck sales keyed to the upturn in the housing market, the average fuel economy of model year 2013 vehicles sold thus far (October 2012 through July 2013) is 24.7 miles per gallon.

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“This is up 1.2 mpg from model year 2012 vehicles,” U-M’s Transportation Research Institute in Ann Arbor, Mich. noted in its monthly Eco-Driving Index (EDI).

The updated Eco-Driving Index for July noted the average fuel-economy (window-sticker) value of new vehicles sold in the U.S. in July was 24.8 mpg – up 0.1 mpg from June and tying the record high reached in March, April and May, according to the latest report.

The report also indicates that Americans are driving more this year than last. The “distance driven” component of the index is up by .04 points, indicating are making wider use of their vehicles as the economy improves despite a modest increase in fuel prices across the country. The price of a gallon of gasoline has increased 13.8 cents per gallon over the past year and now retails at $3.70, according to figures compiled by the U.S. Department of Energy.

The EDI takes into account both the fuel used per distance driven and the amount of driving.

The increase in gasoline prices is helping push consumers towards buying more fuel-efficient vehicles. In addition, manufacturers have remade their lineups in the past three years to feature more fuel-efficient vehicles, such as the Ford Fiesta and Chevrolet Sonic, while mid-sized passenger cars, such as the Honda Accord, and crossovers like the Hyundai Santa Fe also have become better on gas.

Sales of more fuel-efficient vehicles were a key element of the auto industry’s 15% increase in new vehicle sales during July. A small but notable increase in the sale of hybrids, plug-in-hybrids and battery-electric vehicles are also helping to improve fuel economy.

New vehicle fuel economy is up 4.7 mpg since October 2007, which is the first month monitoring by U-M.

(Chevy makes start/stop standard on 2014 Malibu. Click Here for more.)

The EDI also indicated motoring has gotten cleaner.

(Click Here to read about trucks helping with July sales surge.)

U-M estimates the average monthly emissions of greenhouse gases generated by an individual U.S. driver stood at 0.81 in April (the lower the value the better). This value indicates an improvement of 19% since October 2007, which is the base year for the monthly survey.

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One Response to “Americans are Driving More, But Using Less Fuel”

  1. Jorge M. says:

    Gee what a shocker…or NOT. It’s amazing what $4/gal. fuel prices can do to destroy world economies.