New Car Average Fuel Economy Reaches 24.9 MPG

Just the Facts:
  • Greenhouse gas emissions for new U.S. vehicles have reached an all-time low, according to the latest study from the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute.
  • The study also found that average fuel economy for light vehicles sold in January climbed to 24.9 mpg.
  • Both calculations are based on data from the EPA and Federal Highway Administration.

ANN ARBOR, Michigan — Buyers of new vehicles in the U.S. are finding greenhouse gas emissions at an all-time low and average fuel economy trending upward at 24.9 mpg, according to the latest study from the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute.

UMTRI researchers Michael Sivak and Brandon Schoettle, in their most recent national Eco-Driving Index, report that the index for new cars sold during November 2013, the latest month for which figures are available, set a record at 0.79 (the lower the value, the better).

That's a 21 percent improvement since October 2007, when researchers began compiling data.

The UMTRI Eco-Driving Index is a monthly calculation that estimates the average amount of greenhouse gases produced by an individual U.S. driver who purchased a new car or light truck that month. Since the amount of emissions is dependent on the amount of fuel used by any given vehicle, researchers take into account EPA mileage figures and average distance driven (provided by the Federal Highway Administration) to arrive at an Index figure.

In addition to greenhouse gas emissions, UMTRI also keeps track of monthly average fuel economy for light vehicles, based on EPA window-sticker estimates. The average city/highway mileage for new vehicles sold in January was 24.9 mpg, an increase of 0.1 mpg over December and up 4.8 mpg since October 2007.

This increase in fuel efficiency is undoubtedly a response on the part of automakers to meet both consumer demand and federal standards. The latest guidelines, established by Washington in 2012, mandate an average fuel economy of 54.5 mpg for cars and light trucks by the 2025 model year. Current standards for Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) require an average of 29 mpg, with increases to 35.5 mpg by 2016.

Edmunds says: Both the emissions and fuel economy figures should be good news for consumers shopping for new vehicles.

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