New-car average fuel economy has steadily risen over the past few years, as carmakers work to meet stricter U.S. Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards.

It's natural to want to check their progress along the way, especially for the agency in charge of those regulations.

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The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) believes carmakers are on schedule to meet the CAFE goal of 54.5 mpg for 2025-model-year vehicles, according to Automotive News (subscription required).

Carmakers are progressing toward that target--which equates to a rough average of 42 mpg combined on the window sticker--but they still have a long way to go.

An EPA report released last week found that 2013-model cars and trucks attained a real-world average of 24.1 mpg--the highest ever recorded.

That result was achieved despite increased sales of trucks and SUVs, attributed to the growing economy.

2013 Ram 1500 - engine start-stop system

2013 Ram 1500 - engine start-stop system

But not every carmaker saw a fuel-efficiency gain. While Nissan's average efficiency rose by 2.1 mpg to 26.2 mpg, Ford's actually fell by 0.6 mpg, to 22.2 mpg.

Hyundai and Kia were not included in the report, because both are under investigation for misstated fuel-economy figures.

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Even if the EPA revises their scores, the inclusion of the Korean automakers would likely raise the overall average. Hyundai's average fuel efficiency stands at 29 mpg, while Kia is rated at 27.4 mpg.

The increased use of efficiency-improving technologies like downsized and direct-injected engines, turbo- and supercharging, start-stop systems, and multi-speed transmissions will also continue to improve the industry's average efficiency.

All of that will be needed--along with sales of more hybrid and plug-in electric cars--because while 2025 is still 11 years hence, carmakers remain a long way from the 54.5 mpg goal.


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