New-Car Average Gas Mileage At Highest Level Ever: 24.8 MPG

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It just keeps rising: Average gas mileage for new cars has once again hit a new high in the U.S.

Statistics kept by the University of Michigan's Transport Research Institute (UMTRI) show sales-weighted MPG of 24.8 mpg in May.

That contrasts with 24.6 mpg in March, and a rise from 24.5 mpg in January.

When report authors Michael Sivak and Brandon Schoettle began taking figures in October 2007, the average gas mileage of new cars was just 20.8 mpg, illustrating the constant improvements carmakers have made to improving fuel efficiency--and the public for buying the new cars.

The figures are calculated from the monthly sales of individual models of light-duty vehicles--cars, SUVs, minvans and trucks.

When this data is paired with the EPA window sticker gas mileage of each vehicle sold, it's possible to determine the average.

So while the overall number seems low--under 25 mpg is certainly nothing special these days--it's much more representative when you consider just how many sub-20 mpg trucks and mid-twenties minivans are helping bring down the average.

And even those vehicles have made significant advances over the past half-decade--as the lowest lows creep upwards, so too will the overall sales-weighted efficiency.

Should buyers switch to the most economical models in even greater numbers, sales-weighted MPG will rise even further.

UMTRI also measures what it calls the 'Eco-Driving Index', or EDI.

Two EDI measurements are calculated--one based on the average fuel used per distance driven in new vehicles; the other for distance driven by an individual driver.

While distance driven has remained fairly static since data recording started (98 percent of the October 2007 figure), fuel used per distance driven has dropped by a significant 17 percent.

So we may be driving as much as we were five or six years ago, but the fuel we're using has dropped by quite a volume.

And we'll keep seeing that figure drop--and average economy rise--in the future.

By how much? Well, that's really up to you guys...


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Comments (11)
  1. OK. I know I should just let this go, but I can't help myself.
    January 2013 was 24.6 not 24.5 as reported here.
    March 2013 was 24.8 not 24.6 as reported here.

  2. That is strange. The story linked this graph as well so I don't know where these numbers have been coming from.
    Jan-Feb = 24.6
    Mar-Apr-May = 24.8

    Is there a different graph, or did they update them with different numbers after they were already published?

  3. "For cases in which the EPA Fuel Economy Guide contained multiple fuel-economy ratings for a vehicle model, the average of these ratings was used (without regard to sales figures for each specific engine or vehicle-model variant)."

    Taken from the description on the source website. Does that mean that, for cars like the Focus Electric, Fit EV, 500e, Spark etc, their ratings are raised to 50s or 60s and then that is used for their entire sales figures? So you have the regular Focus, the Focus ST and the Focus BEV, the average would be 48.5 MPG since there are multiple models with different ratings. Guessing, but it does explain the positives of taking an existing gas car and making it electric. It raises the ratings of 30K cars per month.

  4. Doubtful.

    It seems like EV sales are broken out separately in the monthly reporting.

    I think the comment is intended for different engine sizes, e.g. 2.0 and 2.5 liter, which are not broken out separately in the monthly report.

    But you raise an interesting point. Just by canceling, say, the 2.5 liter engine in a specific model, the reported economy would jump up significantly.

  5. EV sales are sometimes broken out separately from the other cars in the manufacturers monthly report. That is the report you are referring to right?

    Even if they didn't the auto manufacturers don't report their fleet averages, the university does it all themselves to look at the EPA ratings for the cars and compute the entire fleet average weighted by sales. So it is entirely possible that is what they are doing.

  6. Actually, maybe you are right. I found the source they use for their calcs and they list EV separately as well as listing Flex fuel separately as well. I knew using that you take a hit in fuel economy, but I had no idea it was that bad to use E85.

  7. Forgot to post the source. Here it is:

  8. @Jesse: That's an interesting Q I'd never even considered.

    Given that all current BEV conversions are compliance cars (Chevy Spark EV, Fiat 500e, Ford Focus Electric, Honda Fit EV, Toyota RAV4 EV), their annual sales numbers are so low against the number of gasoline versions sold of each that I suspect they're no more than a rounding error. It's that old "denominator problem".

    Still, an interesting point. Thanks for raising it.

  9. If that was sales adjusted then i would agree with you. But it says "(without regard to sales figures for each specific engine or vehicle-model variant)". That tells me it isn't sales weighted. But I could be wrong.

  10. @Jesse: The ratings ARE sales-adjusted by each make-model combination, just not further refined within that number for different engines or trim levels.

    That is, it multiples each make-model (e.g. Honda Civic) by the total sales for the Civic line that month, but does not get more granular to break out sales for the different Civic powertrains (1.8-liter four, 2.4-liter four, hybrid).

    That's likely because makers (except Tesla) release monthly sales figures broken down by model, but NOT further detail within each model. Hope this helps.

  11. This is sickening. This is why Mustangs and Camars should have huge taxes on them. This is why SUVs should. 95% of us do not need a big SUV and big personal truck. The only people that should be exempt from the big tax is the farmer and the business owner that needs it.

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