Record High Fuel Economy in March is Just the Beginning

Record High Fuel EconomyRecord high fuel economy was reached in March. New vehicles sold during the month averaged 25.4 miles per gallon, the highest number ever recorded. The numbers were furnished by the University of Michigan’s Transportation Research Institute.

Last year, a Consumer Federation of America study revealed that consumer demand for fuel-efficient vehicles is higher than ever, so in some ways the record high fuel economy is not a surprise. For example, 88% of respondents to the study reported fuel economy will be an important factor in their next vehicle purchase – and 59% said it will be a “very important” factor. In fact, this seems to be one of the few things people of all walks of life and political affiliations can agree upon! 

Reasons for Record High Fuel Economy

Automakers are taking notice, and are producing more fuel-efficient vehicles. Of course, government regulations are also helping facilitate these record high fuel economy numbers. By 2016, combined cars and trucks should average about 34 miles per gallon as part of the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) law that was originally signed in 1975.

The March number is a 0.3 mpg improvement from February, and is an astounding 5.3 mpg higher than the average in October 2007. The numbers are compiled through the monthly sales of individual light vehicles and the combined city-highway EPA fuel economy ratings.

Less Fuel Consumed

In a related study done by the same group, American drivers were found to have consumed 11% less fuel in 2012 than they did in 2004. According to Michael Sivak (who co-authored the study with Brandon Schoettle), there is a twofold reason for the drop. First, the fuel economy plays a major factor; and second, there is a definite decline in distance driven.

The bottom line? When there are fewer light-duty vehicles on the road, people are driving their vehicles less, and fuel economy is better than ever, it is no wonder we’re consuming a significantly lower amount of fuel. And there’s no reason to think these numbers won’t continue to get even better going forward.