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Average Fuel Economy Tops 24 MPG In March For First Time Ever

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Concerted efforts by automakers to meet new, more stringent fuel-economy requirements are gradually driving up the efficiency of new passenger vehicles sold in the U.S.

A report from the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute pegged the average gas mileage of new vehicles sold during March at 24.1 miles per gallon. It's the first time the measure has exceeded 24 mpg.

The March figure is 0.2 mpg better than in February, when the average was 23.9 mpg, and 0.5 mpg better than the January figure, at 23.6 mpg.

The institute first began monitoring sales-weighted mileage data in October 2007. At that time, the average was roughly 20 mpg.

The increase can be attributed not only to higher corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) regulations starting for the 2012 model year, but also to some effects of rising gas prices, which are nearing a national average of $4 a gallon.

CAFE standards for the 2017 through 2025 model years are expected to be finalized and signed into law later this year.

The proposed standards for those years will raise CAFE levels to 54.5 mpg, which translates into EPA window-sticker gas mileage numbers in the low to mid 40s.

Meanwhile, as the new-car market overall continued its upward trend, relatively lower sales in 2008 through 2010 mean the U.S. fleet will actually get more efficient slightly faster than it would have if sales in those years had stayed at their 2006 heights.

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Comments (2)
  1. That is really amazing news. Fuel efficiency 20% better in March 2012 than in October 2007.

    CAFE versus Fuel Prices: I am always interested in the attributions that are made to data. Personally, I don't think there is anyway to know divide out various effects, but I lean toward CAFE being more important than gas prices, but I certainly can't prove it.

    The Detroit News article forces on gas prices as the culprit. The Voelcker's report focuses on CAFE primarily, with gas prices being a secondary influence. I am guessing that Voelcker is right, but it is tough to know.

    Of course, it could be that people are suddenly very interested in the environment. What... Don't laugh... it could happen.
     
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  2. Wow look at that, fuel economy is just as good at the Ford Model T, so amazing, we should be proud....pffff.
     
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