The average fuel economy of light vehicles purchased in the U.S. improved last month for the first time since August, increasing 0.3 mpg, according to a monthly report by the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute.
The report, by researchers Michael Sivak and Brandon Schoettle, said that the average window-sticker value of new cars, SUVs, vans and pickups sold in the U.S. in January was 25.4 mpg, up from 25.1 in December.
“Vehicle fuel economy has generally been declining since last summer, likely in response to the declining gas prices,” Sivak told Automotive News. “We think that the improvement in vehicle fuel economy in January likely reflects the leveling off since mid-January in the price of gasoline.”
January’s 0.5 jump from a year earlier marks the 12th consecutive month that average fuel economy has been above 25. Average fuel economy is up 5.3 mpg from October 2007, the university’s first full month of monitoring, according to the report.
Fuel economy was unchanged from September to November at 25.3 mpg and slid to 25.1 in December. The last time it increased was in August, when it hit a record high of 25.8 mpg.
Retail gasoline averaged $2.11 today, down from $3.27 a year earlier, according the Daily Fuel Gauge Report by AAA.
The University of Michigan Eco-Driving Index, another study by UMTRI, tracked average monthly greenhouse gas emissions of each new-vehicle driver in the U.S. for November. The index was 0.77, down from a revised score of 0.80 in October. That means the average new-vehicle driver generated 23 percent lower emissions in November 2014 than in October 2007, when researchers started monitoring the emissions, Sivak and Schoettle said.
A lower score is a better score. It is compared with a base score of 1, when the data collection began in 2007.
Sivak and Schoettle based the index on the fuel used per distance driven and the amount of driving. The amount of driving comes from data that is published with a two-month lag.
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