The average fuel economy of new vehicles sold in the United States in August rose for the first time in five months, University of Michigan researchers say.
Vehicles sold in August had an average fuel economy of 23.8 mpg, according to a report by the university's Transportation Research Institute.
August marked the fourth best month on record and an 18 percent increase (3.7 mpg) from October 2007 when the institute began tracking monthly data.
The 0.2 mpg improvement from July to August most likely reflects the increased price of gasoline, researchers say.
The average national price for self-serve regular gasoline on July 1 was $3.43, which jumped 30 cents to nearly $3.73 on August 1, and other 10 cents by the end of August to $3.83 a gallon, according to AAA.
The rise in gasoline prices did not deter consumers from buying new cars and light trucks last month. Analysts say consumers are replacing older, less fuel-efficient models with new cars and trucks with improved fuel economy.
U.S. light vehicle demand rose 20 percent last month, with car sales up 27 percent, easily outpacing the 13-percent gain in light truck deliveries.