Trucks and sport utility vehicles accounted for more than 58% of the new vehicles sold in the U.S. during January, but the average fuel economy of new vehicles sold actually improved, according to the monthly survey by the University of Michigan.
Despite some of the lowest gasoline prices in a decade, the average fuel economy or window-sticker value of new vehicles sold last month increased to 25.1 mpg from 24.9 mpg in December—the first time it had fallen below 25 mpg in nearly two years, U-M reported.
“This increase likely reflects the month-to-month seasonal decrease in sales of pickup trucks and SUVs,” said Michael Sivak, a research professor at UMTRI.
Overall, fuel economy is down 0.7 mpg from the peak reached in August 2014, but still up 5 mpg from October 2007—the first full month of monitoring by Sivak and colleague Brandon Schoettle.
In addition to average fuel economy, 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 EDI takes into account both the fuel used per distance driven and the amount of driving—the latter relying on data that are published with a two-month lag.
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During November, the EDI improved to 0.82 (the lower the value, the better) from a revised mark of 0.83 in October. The index currently shows emissions of greenhouse gases per driver of newly purchased vehicles are down 18%, overall, since October 2007—but 4% higher than the record low reached in August 2014.
Meanwhile, a new survey from AAA indicates that across the country the price of gasoline has dropped by a nickel per gallon over the past week and is now hovering around $1.77 per gallon.
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Drivers are saving more than $1 per gallon from the 2015 peak price reached this past June, and the national average has spent 32 consecutive days below the $2 per gallon benchmark.
The average price per gallon is the lowest price for gasoline since January 2009. Gas prices have fallen for 24 of the past 26 days, and the combination of seasonal reductions in gasoline demand and the relatively lower price for crude oil are likely to help keep prices low in the near term.
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Retail averages are discounted by three cents per gallon on the week, 20 cents per gallon on the month and 26 cents per gallon on the year.