ANN ARBOR, Michigan — The average fuel economy for new vehicles sold in October dropped to 25.0 mpg, according to researchers Michael Sivak and Brandon Schoettle of the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute.
That makes three straight months of declining fuel economy figures for new vehicles.
The October average is down 0.2 mpg from last month, and 0.8 mpg less than the peak reached in August 2014, but still 4.9 mpg better than October 2007 when the researchers first began compiling data.
The most recent UMTRI Eco-Driving Index stands at 0.81, indicating that the average new vehicle produces 19 percent lower emissions than in October 2007, although that number is 3 percent higher than the record low reached in August 2014.
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.
According to UMTRI, the decline in fuel economy "likely reflects the decreased price of gasoline in October, and the consequent increased sales of pickup trucks and SUVs."
According to the AAA Daily Fuel Gauge Report, the average price of a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline nationwide was $2.21 on Thursday, versus $2.96 a year ago.
According to AAA, drivers can find at least one station selling gas for less than $2 per gallon in 41 states, and eight states have average prices below $2 per gallon. Overall, three of 10 U.S. stations are selling regular gas for less than $2 per gallon.
"Gas prices likely will increase during the first half of November, but that trend might not last long," said AAA spokesperson Avery Ash in a statement. "With any luck, we could still see average gas prices drop below $2 per gallon in more areas in time for Christmas."
Edmunds says: Continuing strong sales of pickups and SUVs indicate that consumers are taking advantage of low fuel prices.