Fuel Economy of New Vehicles Remains High, Gas Prices Continue to Fall

According to University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI) researchers Brandon Schoettle and Michael Sivak, the fuel economy of new vehicles sold in the U.S. in last month averaged 25.3 miles per gallon.

Although that number remained unchanged from September, the researchers say it represents a 5.2 mile per gallon improvement compared to October of 2007, when the duo began tracking the data.

In their report, Sivak and Schoettle pointed out, “The unchanged average fuel economy is likely a net consequence of two opposing trends: less demand for fuel-efficient vehicles because of the decreasing price of gasoline, and improved fuel economy of 2015 model year vehicles compared to 2014 model year vehicles.”

The report’s methodology calculates the EPA’s combined fuel economy ratings and the average sales-weighted fuel economy of light duty vehicles sold during the month, including pickup trucks, passenger vans, sedans, crossovers and SUVs.

The study’s Eco-Driving Index also calculates the average greenhouse gas emissions produced by the average light vehicle in October at a record-low level of 0.76 – 24 percent lower than in October of 2007.

In recent weeks fuel prices have fallen precipitously.  Last Wednesday the average price per gallon for regular unleaded gasoline dropped to $2.92, marking the first time that the price has dipped below $3.00 per gallon in nearly four years according to the AAA Daily Gauge Report. The Association says average prices for gasoline have declined for 48 consecutive days – the longest stretch of declines since 2008.

Over the last week, gasoline prices have fallen by as much as $0.15 in 47 states and the District of Columbia.  Motorists in Ohio, North Dakota and South Dakota have seen increases of less than a penny per gallon.

That’s welcome news for the millions of Americans planning to take to the highways this holiday season.

In a statement, the AAA said, “Barring an unexpected market-moving development this winter, motorists can expect to pay retail prices that are relatively low, and could see the price continue to tick downward even a little further as gasoline stations adjust to falling oil prices in the global market. AAA predicts the national average could fall another 5-15 cents in the coming weeks, which could make for the cheapest Thanksgiving gas in half a decade.”

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