Gas Prices And Average MPG Of New Cars Move Together

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Gas prices, San Francisco, CA

Gas prices, San Francisco, CA

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As we’ve seen in the past, demand for hybrid cars like the 2012 Toyota Prius rises as gas prices increase, but until now, we didn’t know how closely gas prices influenced the gas mileage of new cars. 

Now we do, courtesy of a study by automotive valuation firm TrueCar. 

Gas price influences gas mileage

Thanks to some careful data collection, TrueCar has proven that since January 2010, the average gas mileage of new cars being sold has shadowed the rise and fall of the cost of gasoline. 

“There is a very strong correlation, nearly 71 percent, between TrueMPG and average gas prices since January of 2010, indicating that the prices at the pump influence consumer preferences,” said Jess Toprak, Vice President of Market Intelligence at TrueCar. 

Consumers think about current gas prices

2012 Chevrolet Sonic

2012 Chevrolet Sonic

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The data clearly shows that most consumers make car-buying choices based on current gas prices, not historical or future ones. 

For example, between April and October 2011, the average gas mileage of cars sold in the U.S. dropped from 22mpg to 21 mpg. 

This mirrored an average gas price drop from over $4 per gallon to around $3.50 per gallon. 

Slow uphill trend towards better gas mileage

Interesting however, despite dropping gas prices in recent months, the average gas mileage of new cars has begun to rise again. 

That’s partly down to increasingly tough Corporate Average Fuel Economy targets.

2013 Hyundai Elantra Coupe

2013 Hyundai Elantra Coupe

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With ever tougher fuel economy standards to meet, many automakers have launched all-new cars for the 2013 model year, complete with all-new four-cylinder, turbocharged engines that are far more fuel efficient than the outgoing models. 

Regardless of the driving factors, one thing is simple to see.

Gas prices, and gas mileage, are both increasing. 


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Comments (6)
  1. Boy Chrysler has the lowest fuel economy of all the manufacturers in both the car and truck categories.

    Hyundai is doing very well on fuel economy and is on par or better than Toyota.

  2. That has to do with the car "mix". If sports car and large sedans are your main sales, then the MPG will be lower. If hybrids and econ boxes are your main volume, then it will lower your average MPG.

    I would be cautious on Hyundai though. In my experience, people don't always get what Hyundai claims. In fact, there is a lawsuit going on with owners from Sacramento area suing the Hyundai for "false advertising" on the Elentra's MPG..

  3. Also, keep in mind about "true car". Their posts are usually pretty bad. They are the same people that claimed that Leaf and Volt would take more than 20 years to break even when they couldn't even do their math correctly.

    BTW, last time I looked Hyundai and Honda do NOT make "trucks". So, I don't know where they get their averages. SAV or car based crossover should NOT be considered as "trucks"...

  4. I think Hyundai just makes CUV's and those must be in the "truck" category.

    But let's give credit where credit is due, Hyundai bested everyone (including Toyota (slightly)) in the car category which I think is an accomplishment.

  5. So, they moved all the "CUV" into truck category and leave Hyundai with mostly econ boxes... What does its Minivan go?

    How many Luxury sedans or "performance" cars do Hyundai sell? Its highest volume cars are econ boxes and its luxury Genesis sedan/coupe are fairly low volume. Of course, it will do better.

    I bet you if you only single to Toyota's Scion brand, it will be much better than Toyota and Lexus would have been worse...

  6. This only reflects that American car buyers are bad in math and bad with their finance...

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