Average fuel economy improved by 20 percent in five years

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Average fuel economy among new vehicles has improved drastically since 2007. Image from Wikimedia Commons.

The American government has been steadily raising the Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards, requiring car makers to make more fuel efficient cars. They have been keeping pace; average fuel economy among car makers has risen by 20 percent since 2007, reaching 24.1 miles per gallon.

The CAFE race

In 1975, according to Car and Driver, the United States established CAFE standards, the legally mandated Corporate Average Fuel Economy. The law was passed in response in the wake of the 1973 OPEC embargo and subsequent fuel shortages.

Car makers had to average a certain miles per gallon rating across new models of cars and trucks, and since that time, the CAFE standards have been raised several times, pushing the target average mpg ever higher. The Obama administration, according to MotorTrend, wants CAFE standards of 35.5 miles per gallon by 2016 across all new cars and trucks.

Though CAFE standards are protested, 35.5 mpg is pedestrian. The European Union has set standards of 45 mpg for 2015 and Japan has set its equivalent 2015 standards at 47 mpg.

Car makers keeping up

The car industry is keeping pace with increased standards. According to USA Today, a study by the Transportation Research Institute at the University of Michigan has found that the average fuel economy across new models of cars and trucks reached 24.1 miles per gallon in March of this year.

[It is easier than ever to buy a car, bad credit or otherwise]

That represented a 20 percent increase, or four miles per gallon, since the study’s authors, Brandon Schoettle and Michael Sivak, started tracking the data in October 2007. It was even an improvement over January of this year, when average fuel economy was 23.6 mpg. The authors did calculate the average fuel economy differently than the Environmental Protection Agency does for CAFE standards.

The study’s authors also noted, according to MSNBC, that the average emissions declined in the same period as well. The authors published an Eco-Driving Index, which measures the amount of emissions put out by new vehicles each month, using miles driven and fuel economy to calculate it. The EDI declined by 17 percent since October 2007.

Much further to go

Though car makers are on board with making cars more fuel efficient, some fairly aggressive standards are being set for the next decade or so. A CAFE standard of 35.5 miles per gallon has three years to be met, though as of 2011, according to Businessweek, the government observed an average of 27 miles per gallon for all cars and trucks from major automakers. The target for 2025, according to Popular Mechanics, is 54.5 miles per gallon.


Car and Driver


USA Today

MSNBC: http://bottomline.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2012/04/10/11122287-us-fuel-economy-tops-24-mpg-for-first-time?lite

Businessweek: http://www.businessweek.com/news/2011-07-29/automakers-agree-to-54-5-mpg-fuel-economy-rule-obama-says.html

Popular Mechanics: http://www.popularmechanics.com/cars/news/fuel-economy/obama-announces-54-6-mpg-cafe-standard-by-2025

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