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Carmakers Beating Fuel Economy Mandates, Study Finds

Some models nearly meet goals set for 2025.

by on Apr.25, 2016

The new Chevrolet Malibu Hybrid already meets the fuel economy target for 2021.

Low fuel prices have been driving a surge in demand for big pickups and SUVs. That’s a seeming recipe for poor fuel economy, but a new report reveals that the auto industry is not only managing to meet federal fuel economy standards but, in many cases, handily exceeding the current mandate.

A total of 56% of the newest models in dealer showrooms match or exceed today’s federal target, according to the survey by the Consumer Federation of America. And a number of vehicles already come close to meeting the tough, 54.5 mile-per-gallon target that’s not supposed to take effect until 2025.

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“Fuel efficiency increasingly comes standard with new cars, trucks, and SUVs” said Jack Gillis, Director of Public Affairs for the CFA and author of The Car Book. “Even if you’re in the market for a large pickup or SUV, you’d have to go out of your way to find a true gas guzzler.”


GM Outlines Strategy to Slash Fuel Consumption

“All things are possible,” says CEO Akerson.

by on Mar.06, 2013

GM CEO Dan Akerson outlines the maker's energy efficiency plans.

It may seem like an odd choice to pitch fuel efficiency and energy independence in Texas, but General Motors Chairman and CEO Dan Akerson took that message to the Lone Star State today, telling participants in an energy conference that America is on the right track as it curbs consumption and develops domestic resources while curbing fuel imports.

The former Naval Academy graduate also used his speech to a conference hosted by global consulting firm IHS to outline GM’s plans for sharply improving the fuel economy of its products over the coming years.

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Quoting widely read Texas author Larry L. King, GM’s chief executive said the state one was the roll model for America as a was a place where “all things are possible.” The payoff of cutting energy consumption – and especially the U.S. dependence upon foreign oil, Akerson emphasized, “suggests to me that ‘all things may be possible’ once again – if we play our cards right.”

But the executive also stressed that the nation needs to move away from a reactive approach to its energy policy, “lurching from crisis to crisis,” and form a more effective, well-thought-out, proactive approach.


Fuel Economy Continues Climbing

Emissions, meanwhile, fall to record low.

by on Dec.06, 2012

Despite the fact that Hyundai and Kia had to roll back their mileage claims, the typical new vehicle sold in the US is getting record mileage.

The average fuel economy of all new vehicles sold in the United States remains at its highest level ever, while emissions are at a record low, according to the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute.

The average fuel economy or window-sticker values of cars, light trucks, minivans and sport utility vehicles purchased in November was 24.1 mpg, a full mile per gallon better than a year ago. The figure was the same as in October but up from 23.8 in September.

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The average improved despite the fact that two of the brands that have led in the improvement of fuel efficiency, Hyundai and Kia, have had to scale back their mileage claims, following an audit by the Environmental Protection Agency. The government agency, which overseas vehicle mileage standards, found both companies had flubbed standard procedures while performing the mileage tests for the government.


Auto Mileage Hits All-Time Record

Mileage keeps rising even as fuel prices fall.

by on Nov.05, 2012

As more high-mileage models, such as the 2013 Nissan Altima, roll into showrooms, the nation's fuel economy average is rising to record levels.

The mileage of the average vehicles sold in the U.S. last month hit an all-time record, according to a new study, even though fuel prices fell across most of the country.

The increase comes despite adjusting for the fact that Hyundai and Kia had to reduce the stated mileage of 13 different models they’ve sold in the U.S. since 2010 in the wake of an EPA Audit. The federal agency, today reported, may audit other manufacturers to see if they have overstated fuel economy numbers, as well.

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The typical vehicle sold in the U.S. in October had an average fuel economy of 24.1 miles per gallon, according to the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute.  That’s up 17% from the average in October 2007 when UMTRI became tracking mileage.


Fuel Economy Dipping as Motorists Return to Larger Vehicles

Mileage slips as gas prices drop.

by on Jul.06, 2012

As sales of bigger vehicles, including work trucks like the Ford F-Series, recover fuel economy averages are beginning to drop.

American motorists got a pleasant surprise for the Independence Day holiday, fuel prices falling below year-earlier levels despite some forecasts that gas might nudge $5 a gallon by this summer.

But as gas prices have fallen so has the mileage of the new cars, trucks and crossover U.S. motorists are buying, according to a new report.

The average fuel economy for new vehicles sold in June came in at 23.6 mpg, according to the University of Michigan’s Transportation Research Institute, or UMTRI.  That’s a full 0.5 miles per gallon less than the peak in March of this year, as it appeared fuel prices would spike to new record levels.  And it’s off by 0.1 mpg from May.

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The decline is “likely reflecting the continuing reduction in the price of gasoline,” writes Dr. Michael Sivak, UMTRI’s director of sustainable transportation.

Sales data also suggest that as the U.S. economy slowly recovers Americans are migrating back to higher-price — typically meaning larger — vehicles.  And as the economy improves there is more demand for large pickups, vans and other work vehicles that will drive the mileage numbers downward.

On the positive side, the June mileage average was still up 3.5 mpg, or 17%, compared to October 2007, when the school began tracking fuel economy trends.

Those figures reflect the adjusted numbers the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency uses for the window, or Munroney, stickers placed on all new cars.  A separate, unadjusted calculation shows fuel economy at 29.0 mpg, also a 17% improvement since October 2007.

Meanwhile UMTRI’s Eco-Driving Index, which tracks the average monthly emissions of the typical American motorist stood at 0.81 for April, the latest month for which data are available.  That’s a 19% decline from October 2007.  The Index is based on both fuel economy and the number of miles motorists clock each month.

March 2012 saw fuel economy hit an all-time high, the average vehicle sold in the U.S. getting 24.1 mpg, according to federal data.  The figure was just 20.1 mpg when tracking began in October 2007.

U.S. Buyers Turn Away from High-Mileage Models

Average new vehicle fuel economy dips in April.

by on May.03, 2012

Increasing demand for larger, more powerful products, such as the Nissan Titan pickup, meant a drop in average April fuel economy.

With fuel prices now showing signs of hitting their peak are U.S. car buyers shifting focus from the high-mileage models that were quickly gaining ground earlier this year?

That’s one possible conclusion based on data collected by the University of Michigan showing that the fuel economy of the average new vehicle purchased in the U.S. last month dipped slightly from March, when fuel prices seemed to be rising that just about every other day.

And it fits into historical American patterns.  Even when gas prices were just nudging their all-time record of $4.12 in July 2008 consumers were already starting to purchase more pickups and SUVs, while demand for hybrids was on the slide.

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For April 2012, the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute, or UMTRI, reports the average fuel economy based on window-sticker values of new vehicles sold in the U.S. was down 0.2 miles per gallon from March. The decline appears to reflect an increase in sales of larger and less efficient trucks and crossovers that followed the slight reduction in the price of gasoline towards the end of April, according to U-M researchers.


Average Auto’s Fuel Economy Rising Fast

Hybrids the only segment where mileage dropped.

by on Feb.07, 2012

The mileage of the average diesel -- like this Porsche Cayenne diesel -- rose almost 10 mpg since 2008, according to a new study.

After years of little growth, the fuel economy of the typical new car sold in the U.S. is now rising rapidly, according to a new study that found that new vehicles are getting an average 14% better mileage than just four years ago.

For all 2012 light-duty vehicles. including cars, pickup trucks, minivans, vans and SUVs, the average miles per gallon is 21.5, compared to 18.9 mpg for model year 2008 vehicles, according to a new study by the University of Michigan. The averages were 21.2 for 2011, 20.7 for 2010 and 19 for 2009, the study said.

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That figure is an average of all the vehicles on the road but when weighted to reflect actual market demand, the shift away from large, gas-guzzling trucks to smaller, more efficient passenger cars and crossover, the shift is even more obvious, raising the average by another one to two miles per gallon.

The typical car sold in 2011 got 22.5 mpg, up from 20.8 mpg as recently as 2008.


Audi Planning to Slash Q7 Weight by 770 Pounds

German maker the latest to target big weight cuts.

by on Sep.21, 2011

Audi turned to diesel power to help boost the mileage of the big Q7 but now it wants to address the problem by slashing the ute's weight.

Audi plans to trim the weight of its hefty Q7 sport-utility vehicle by as much 770 pounds.  The maker is just the latest to announce plans to significantly cut the heft of its future products.

Ford Motor Co., for example, hopes to trim the weight on future product lines by as much as 20%, product chief Derrick Kuzak recently told, while makers as diverse as Nissan and Land Rover are also setting aggressive weight targets as part of their efforts to meet tough new fuel economy standards.

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Audi’s planned diet for the roughly 5,700-pound Q7 would amount to a significant 15% cut in weight, according to a report in Car & Driver magazine.

Meanwhile, the Volkswagen Touareg – which shares many of the same underlying components as the Q7 – has already dropped about 400 pounds with the current, second-generation model, as has the other Q7 sibling, Porsche’s Cayenne.


Obama Reveals New Mileage Standards; Garners Broad Support

Industry, consumer, environmentalist groups largely heap praise on 54.5 mpg compromise.

by on Jul.29, 2011

Few expected the fuel economy compromise that was announced by Pres. Obama today - at least not anytime soon.

With many of the nation’s automotive leaders surrounding him at the White House, President Barack Obama revealed details of the unexpected compromise that will set the nation on a course of drastically improved automotive fuel economy over the next decade-and-a-half – something he dubbed “the single most important step we’ve ever taken as a nation to reduce our dependence on foreign oil.”

The new Corporate Average Fuel Economy standard demands that manufacturers deliver a fleet average of 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025, roughly twice the fuel economy of the typical vehicle being sold in the U.S. when the current administration came to power in January 2009.

While some environmentalists had hoped to push the figure to 56.2 or even 62 mpg, the final number is significantly higher than what industry lobbyists had been campaigning for – in fact, barely a week ago, an automotive lobbying group was preparing an advertising campaign designed to thwart the White House push for a new CAFE standard.


Instead, as demonstrated  by the presence of top executives — including General Motors’ Dan Akerson, Jim Lentz of Toyota Motor Sales USA, Ford’s Alan Mulally and Hyundai Motor America’s John Krafcik – the industry came onboard with very public support, triggering praise from the president, who declared that while the new 54.5 mpg number is “an aggressive target…the companies here are stepping up to the plate.”


Americans Back 60 MPG Goal

New report claims majority want big mileage bump.

by on May.17, 2011

Americans want fuel economy standards bumped to 60 mpg, according to a new survey.

Despite strong opposition from the industry, Americans weary of watching gas prices soar now want a near doubling of automotive fuel economy standards.

Nearly two-thirds of those polled by Opinion Research Group favored raising the Corporate Average Fuel Economy, or CAFE, standard to 60 mpg by 2025.  The White House has been considering a bump to 62 mpg, though anticipated changes in fuel economy rules have been delayed since Republicans took control of the House last November.

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Even with surveys revealing consistent consumer support for raising fuel economy standards, such measures have long lagged.  After an extensive delay, the Obama Administration finally won enough industry backing to push the long-frozen 27.5 mpg mandate to 35 mpg by 2016.  But despite hailing the industry/government alliance, there has been little support for going further, at least within the industry, the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers  asking the EPA – which oversees fuel economy – to wait until new studies have been completed.