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Fuel Economy Hasn’t Much Changed Since 1923

Or has it? Federal data leaves some big gaps open.

by on Aug.20, 2015

New study suggests that today's auto fleet isn't getting much better mileage than it did 90 years ago.

Federal guidelines are calling for some big increases in fuel economy over the next decade, with the average vehicle required to deliver 54.5 mpg by 2025.

But a new study by the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute, or UMTRI, adds a cautionary note to that push, noting that from 1923 to 2013, the average mileage of the American automotive fleet rose a meager 3.6 miles per gallon, to just 17.6 mpg.

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In fact, fuel economy actually tumbled for a number of years, only starting to rebound in 1974, in the wake of the first Mideast oil shock as Washington enacted the first Corporate Average Fuel Economy, or CAFE, standard.


Summer Travel Likely to Rise as Gas Prices Fall

Pump price expected to drop as oil stabilizes.

by on Jun.05, 2015

Gas prices are their high-water mark for 2015, but are expected to fall as crude oil prices stabilize.

The national average price of gasoline is $2.75 per gallon, which is the highest average of the year, according to the latest survey by AAA.

However, there is a good chance that average U.S. gas prices will drop soon due to stabilizing crude oil costs and as refineries complete seasonal maintenance, which would result in the cheapest summertime gas prices since 2009, the company suggested.

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At the same time, the average fuel economy of new vehicles sold in the U.S. continues to improve, according to a new survey from the University of Michigan. (more…)

U-M Predicts US Auto Sales Topping 17 Million in 2016

Forecast shows “meaningful” growth for economy next year.

by on Nov.21, 2014

University of Michigan economists predict U.S. new vehicle sales will hit 17 million units in 2016. As the economy recovers, sales of trucks are going to grow.

The expansion U.S. economy next will boost sales of new vehicles and set the stage for industry-wide sales, reaching 17 million units in 2016, according to a new forecast the economists at the University of Michigan.

The economy will grow by more than 3% next year — its highest rate in 10 years, they added. The university auto sales numbers of 16.6 million in 2015 and 17 million the following year add to the chorus of predictions for a sustained stretch of prosperity for the industry.

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By and large, automakers appear comfortable with the predictions of strong, steady sales over the next couple of years. (more…)

Fuel Economy Gains Grind to a Halt in October

Average fuel economy remains unchanged after drop from August rating.

by on Nov.12, 2014

The popularity of new trucks, like the Silverado, due to lower gas prices kept the average fuel economy of new vehicles sold in October stagnant.

The layoff of more than 500 workers at two General Motors plants in Michigan highlights a big shift in demand, American motorists walking past the high-mileage small cars that topped the sales charts last year in favor of big, fuel thirsty pickups, SUVs and crossovers.

So, it may come as a surprise that the fuel economy of the typical vehicle sold in the U.S. last month didn’t take a big tumble, according to the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI), and ran only slightly below the record levels set earlier in the year.

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“The unchanged average fuel economy is likely a net consequence of two opposing trends—less demand for more fuel-efficient vehicles because of the decreasing price of gasoline, and improved fuel economy of 2015 model year vehicles compared to 2014 model year vehicles,” noted UMTRI researcher Michael Sivak who, with partner Brandon Schoettle, tracks the mileage of new cars, trucks and crossovers on a monthly basis. (more…)

U-M Escalating Connected Car Research

Mobility Transportation Center leading the efforts.

by on Apr.30, 2014

The University of Michigan is about to begin a new wave to testing connected cars to improve their future viability.

The University of Michigan’s Board of Regents is ready to approve a new project that will help make the university one of the centers for the study of connected car technology in North America.

Jim Sayer of the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute said the rapid development of connected-vehicle technology and the potential it has to improve transportation safety, driver accessibility, optimize mobility and reduce vehicle crashes is compelling technology.

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Going forward, automotive engineers will need to be familiar with connected vehicle technology, he said. Located on the university’s campus in Ann Arbor, Michigan, new Mobility Transportation Center will be supported by the university, the State of Michigan and several corporate backers with an interest in the technology. (more…)

Russian Auto Market Holds Too Much Promise to Ignore

by on Apr.17, 2014

The Datsun on-DO is the brand's first offering in Russia. It is a four-door, five-seat family sedan.

Despite the air of perpetual crisis that hangs over the country, Russia is too simply too large and too important a market for carmakers to ignore, experts said during a conference on “Understanding Russia’s Current and Future Automotive Industry” at the University of Michigan.

“The Russian market is going to be larger than Germany,” said John Branch, a professor at the University of Michigan Ross School of Business told a conference sponsored by U-M’s Transportation Research Institute this week.

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Automakers, particularly those with global ambitions, simply can’t afford to ignore the Russian market despite its volatile nature, added Branch, who noted the structure of the Russian auto industry is in flux as the demand for imports increases despite barriers imposed by the Russian government. (more…)

Index Shows New Car Fuel Economy Still Improving

Emissions levels take a step back due to truck sales.

by on Apr.04, 2014

FCA's Ram pickup enjoyed its best March sales total ever. Trucks are more fuel efficient than ever, helping to improve new vehicle fuel economy.

The fuel economy of new vehicles sold in the U.S. continue to improve reaching its best mark ever last month, according to a new report from the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI), but new car emissions took a step back.

Michael Sivak and Brandon Schoettle, the UMTRI researchers who prepare the report, estimated the average fuel economy of window-sticker values for fuel economy on cars, light trucks, vans and SUVs purchased in March was 25.4 mpg. The figures represented a 0.3-mpg increase from a revised February figure and 5.3 mpg from October 2007, the first full month of monitoring by UMTRI.

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However, Sivak and Schoettle issued a monthly update of their national Eco-Driving Index, which estimates the average monthly emissions generated by an individual U.S. driver. The index shifted into reverse and fell back slightly as Americans continued to buy more trucks and utility vehicles. (more…)

Michigan Approves Autonomous Vehicle Testing

Governor wants state to be the leader in new technology.

by on Dec.27, 2013

Ford expects to have its autonomous vehicles on the road by 2025.

The move toward autonomous vehicles becoming a reality took another step forward when Michigan Governor Rick Snyder signed legislation today allowing the vehicles to be tested on the state’s roadways.

Michigan joins Nevada, California and Florida as the only states allowing on-road testing.

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Snyder’s blessing wasn’t a surprise given the number of automakers and suppliers based in Michigan involved in these projects as well as the fact that he’s been an advocate of this type of work for some time. (more…)

U-Michigan Team Shines to Victory in Solar Challenge

College team claims fourth consecutive victory.

by on Jul.23, 2012

The University of Michigan's solar car Quantum heads to victory in the 2012 American Solar Challenge.

A team from the University of Michigan shined – quite literally – in the 2012 American Solar Challenge, a sun-powered race the school won for the fourth consecutive year.

The U-M team led the race by as much as 10 hours, going into the final stretch of the 8-day event, which began in Syracuse, New York and wrapped up in St. Paul, Minnesota.  In all, the university has claimed victory seven times since the American Solar Challenge was first launched in 1990.

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The school’s solar-powered car, dubbed Quantum, took 45 hours of actual driving to make the journey, using the energy from the sun to average just under 40 miles per hour.  The vehicle was a modified version of the solar racer that helped the school win third place during the World Solar Challenge in Australia last year.