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US Fuel Economy Hits All-Time Record

But declining fuel prices could buck trend.

by on Jan.07, 2013

GM claims being first to sell 1 million cars getting over 30 mpg, such as the Chevy Sonic.

American motorists are getting more out of their new vehicles as the average fuel economy of new cars and trucks sold increased 6% and set an all-time high in 2012 as consumers responded to higher gas prices and the increased availability of attractive high-mileage products, according to a study by the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute, or UMTRI.

UMTRI’s Eco-Driving Index indicated the average fuel economy of new vehicles purchased in 2012 rose to a record 23.8 mpg, up 1.3 mpg from 2011 and up 2.9 mpg from 2008.

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But whether that trend will continue, especially with the economy recovering and fuel prices falling – at least for the moment – remains to be seen.  The University study found the fuel economy of vehicles purchased in December was 23.9 mpg, down 0.2 mpg from November, likely reflecting the recent reduction in the price of gasoline.

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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.

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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, TheDetroitBureau.com 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.

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U.S. Fuel Economy Tops 24 MPG for 1st Time

Mileage on a steady rise as gas prices soar towards record.

by on Apr.10, 2012

Record demand for the expanding Prius "family," including the Prius Vshown here, helped nudge U.S. fuel economy to a record 24.1 mpg.

The fuel economy of the average new vehicle sold in the United States has topped 24 miles per gallon for the first time ever, according to researchers at the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute.

Using the numbers shown in the “Munroney” window sticker, he average fuel economy of the cars, light trucks, minivans and SUVs purchased in March rose to 24.1 mpg, up from 23.9 in February and 23.6 in January.

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The typical vehicle sold in March 2012 was 20%, or four miles per gallon, higher than the industry average in October 2007, the first month UMTRI researchers Michael Sivak and Brandon Schoettle began tracking vehicle mileage.

The surge in fuel economy should be no surprise to those who have been tracking recent sales trends.  Small cars have enjoyed a major surge as gas prices have begun their latest push towards record levels.  Compact and smaller models now account for nearly a quarter of the market, up from less than 18% as recently as last December.

Meanwhile, hybrid-electric vehicles have also enjoyed a big burst of interest, the Toyota Prius achieving record sales in March.

(New study finds hybrid owners less than loyal, most trading in for non-hybrids. Click Here for more.)

In addition to reporting on the average fuel economy numbers, researchers Sivak and Schoettle issued their monthly update of their national Eco-Driving Index, which estimates the average monthly emissions generated by an individual U.S. driver. The EDI takes into account both vehicle fuel economy and distance driven—the latter relying on data that are published with a two-month lag.

During January, the EDI stood at 0.83, an improvement from 0.86 in December (the lower the value, the better). The index currently shows that emissions of greenhouse gases per driver of newly purchased vehicles are down 17%, overall, since October 2007.

In addition, Sivak and Schoettle reported the unadjusted Corporate Average Fuel Economy performance for the first time. That figure is not the same as the number consumers see because it is based on a different set of EPA ratings.  Nonetheless, it also showed a substantial improvement For March.  The unadjusted CAFE figure rose to 29.6 mpg, an increase of 20%, or 4.9 mpg, since October 2007.

What remains to be seen is whether the surge in fuel economy will continue once fuel prices level off. Most analysts believe the trend will continue, however, if for no other reason than the tough new fuel economy standards automakers are facing. That has led the industry to make major shifts in powertrain technology that will continue to have an impact for years to come.