- The average fuel economy for new cars sold in August reached a record high of 25.8 mpg, according to the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute.
- Average fuel economy is up 5.7 mpg since October 2007, say UMTRI researchers Michael Sivak and Brandon Schoettle.
- AAA on Friday reported that fuel prices are averaging $3.43, down from $3.49 a month ago.
ANN ARBOR, Michigan — The average fuel economy for new cars sold in August reached a record high of 25.8 mpg, according to researchers Michael Sivak and Brandon Schoettle of the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute.
The latest data from the UMTRI Eco-Driving Index show that the 25.8 mpg average represents an increase of 0.2 mpg from July and an improvement of 5.7 mpg since October 2007, when the researchers first began compiling data.
The Institute calculates average sales-weighted fuel economy from the monthly sales of light-duty vehicles (cars, SUVs, vans and pickups) and the combined city/highway fuel economy ratings that appear in the EPA Fuel Economy Guide and on vehicle window stickers.
The Eco-Driving Index also showed that the average monthly emissions of greenhouse gases generated by the driver of a new light vehicle purchased in June stood at 0.78. That figure indicates that the average new-car driver produced 22 percent lower emissions than in October 2007.
Meanwhile, according to the AAA Fuel Gauge Report, the average price of a gallon of regular gas nationwide dipped to $3.43 on Friday, down from $3.49 a month ago.
And AAA said to expect fuel prices to drop even more in September.
"The big crunch in summer travel is done, and most of us can look forward to lower gas prices during the next few months," said AAA spokesman Avery Ash in a statement. "If we can get through September without any major refinery or overseas problems, we should see more gas stations drop below $3.00 per gallon this fall."
Last year, driving in the U.S. declined almost 10 percent in September compared to August, according to the Federal Highway Administration.
The price of gas in September has dropped an average of 8 cents per gallon in four of the last five years. In 2013, the national average for a gallon of regular gas fell by 19 cents in September.
AAA noted that beginning September 15 refineries will begin to sell less expensive winter-blend gasoline in many parts of the country, which should contribute also to the reduction in fuel costs.
The only fly in the ointment could be the unpredictability of weather. Hurricane season reaches a peak in September, and major storms can affect oil production, refineries and transportation, which can sometimes result in higher gas prices. For example, Hurricane Isaac, which struck Louisiana in 2012, contributed to a spike in the national average fuel price of 11 cents per gallon over the course of nine days.
But, barring such natural disasters, AAA said to expect gas prices to drop by another 10-20 cents per gallon by the end of October.
Edmunds says: Record fuel economy and declining gas prices spell good news for consumers.