The average gas mileage for new cars and trucks reached an average of 24.1 mpg in 2013 according to the EPA, but fuel economy improvements are slowing.
Recent improvements in engines and transmissions and the additional power given to smaller engines by turbochargers have been responsible for a one-half mile per gallon improvement over 2012.
There was a gain of 1.2 mpg between 2011 and 2012. However, since 2004, fuel economy has gained almost 5mpg, according to the recently released EPA report. The agency is predicting slower growth for the coming year, but says that the industry is on track to meet the 54.5 mpg goal by 2025.
This year’s slower gains should reflect vastly improving SUV and truck sales. Light truck sales are up 16.5 over last year, while car sales have risen only 2.3 percent according to Autodata Corp. Trucks accounted for 51.3 percent of all sales through this past September; last year trucks made up for 49.3 percent of sales.
Steady gasoline prices are responsible for the change, as well as improvements made to gas mileage in both trucks and SUVs. According to the EPA, truck-based SUVs have improved 27 percent in gas mileage through last year, which is the biggest in any segment. Cars and car-based SUVs improved 23 percent.
Gasoline is now at the lowest price of the year, at $3.27 per gallon average nationwide as of last Wednesday. Predictions are that the average price for 2014 will only be $3.45 per gallon, which is the lowest since 2011.
Depending on new models that are introduced, gains will, of course, vary from year to year, but so far, the industry is ahead of what the EPA expected.
Later this year, the aluminum body Ford F-150 pickup truck will be out, and could singlehandedly raise the average mileage because it is the top selling vehicle in the U.S., says Chris Grundler, head of the EPA’s office of transportation and air quality. He said the F-150’s reduction in mass will mean much better gas mileage and decreased emissions over currently offered models.
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