The average fuel economy of new cars sold in October was a record high 24.1 miles per gallon, according to data analysed by the University of Michigan’s Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI).Improving fuel economy has been a key motif in the auto industry in recent years, as hybrid and electric vehicles gain a foothold in the market.
President Bush set a fuel economy goal of 35 mpg by 2020 by signing the Energy Independence and Security Act. In August, President Obama and the EPA raised the bar to 54.5 mpg by 2025.
Rick Newman of U.S. News & World Report argued the aggressive new standards are a boon to the auto industry and customers:
Boosting fuel economy by four or five miles per gallon might not sound earth-shattering—until you bank the savings. A 5 mpg improvement would save about $525 per year for a motorist who drives 15,000 miles annually, if gas were at $3.50 per gallon. With gas at $4 per gallon, the savings would amount to $600 per year.
Regardless of the merit of the new standards, they are having an impact on the auto industry. Cars are lighter; new transmission technologies make engines more efficient. Fuel economy is a central part of the marketing campaign of many new cars, including Nissan’s Sentra and Pathfinder, and Ford’s Fusion.
UMTRI has been tracking fuel economy since October 2007. The “average sales-weighted fuel economy” is based on fuel economy figures provided by the EPA. The data includes individual models of light-duty vehicles, including cars, vans, SUVs, and pickup trucks.
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