ANN ARBOR, Michigan — The average fuel economy for new cars sold in January jumped to 25.4 mpg, according to researchers Michael Sivak and Brandon Schoettle of the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute.
The January average represents a gain of 0.3 mpg from the December average and an improvement of 5.3 mpg from October 2007, when the researchers first began compiling data.
UMTRI notes that the fuel economy of new vehicles sold during all of calendar year 2014 averaged 25.4 mpg, compared to 24.8 mpg during 2013, an overall increase of 0.6 mpg.
To arrive at its figures, UMTRI 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 latest monthly UMTRI Eco-Driving Index showed that the average emissions of greenhouse gases generated by the driver of a new light vehicle stood at 0.77. That figure indicates that the average new-car driver produced 23 percent lower emissions than in October 2007.
According to the AAA Daily Fuel Gauge Report, the average price of a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline nationwide was $2.15 on Thursday versus $3.27 a year ago.
"Many drivers are noticing an uptick in gas prices for the first time in months," said AAA spokesman Avery Ash in a statement. "It is typical to see gas prices increase this time of year due to refinery issues, yet hopefully the consumer impact will be less problematic given how low prices are today."
AAA says we can expect prices to continue to rise slightly this month due to refinery maintenance and decreased production. And, said Ash, "It is a good bet that most drivers will pay more for gasoline in March than today."
But, he added, "even if gas prices increase as expected, drivers should continue paying at least a dollar less on gasoline than what they spent in recent years during the spring."
Overall, AAA estimates that Americans are spending about $365 million less per day on gasoline compared to this time last year and says we can expect average pump prices to remain below $3 per gallon throughout the remainder of 2015.
Edmunds says: Increased fuel economy is good news for car shoppers, even with this slight jump in gasoline prices.