Fuel economy is dropping as American buyers continue to buy in accordance with their purchasing preferences: trucks and sport-utes, according to information collected monthly by the University of Michigan.
The average fuel economy or window-sticker value of new vehicles sold in the United States in September was 25.2 miles per gallon — down 0.1 mpg from the value for August, the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute said in a new report.
Michael Sivak, director, Sustainable Worldwide Transportation, and Brandon Schoettle
project manager for Sustainable Worldwide Transportation at the Institute, said the decline in September likely reflects the increased proportion of light trucks among the vehicles sold.
Pickup trucks, crossover vehicles, which are counted as trucks by the EPA, and sport utility vehicles accounted for almost 61% of the vehicles sold in the U.S. last month, according to AutoData.
Fuel economy is down 0.6 mpg from the peak reached in August 2014, but still up 5.1 mpg since October 2007 the first month of their monitoring, Sivak and Schoettle said.
The model year 2016 average was 25.3 mpg—the same as model years 2015 and 2014, they noted.
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Sivak and Schoettle said the U-M Eco-Driving Index or EDI—an index that estimates the average monthly emissions of greenhouse gases generated by an individual U.S. driver—was 0.82 in July 2016, down 0.01 from the value for June 2016. The lower the value the better.
The current value of the index indicates that the average new-vehicle driver produced 18% lower emissions in July 2016 than in October 2007.
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However, the emissions in August 2016 were 4% higher than the record lows reached in both August 2014 and August 2015.
The major shift by consumers to trucks in the U.S, which has moved 11 points of market share from the passenger car side of the business into the truck column, is emerging as a key point in the discussion of the current fuel-economy regulations. Those regulations are up for review next year. The current regulations call for the vehicle fleets of carmakers to reach a 54.5 mpg.
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The sources of the shift, according to auto executives, include the drop in the price of gasoline that has prevailed for the past two years, steady improvements in fuel economy of trucks and SUVS. and the steady rise in the popularity of compact sport utility vehicles.