2012 average fuel economy up 6 percent from 2011 image

The average fuel economy of new vehicles sold in the U.S. last year increased by nearly 4 mpg (+6%) from 2011.

According to the Transportation Research Institute at The University of Michigan, the average fuel economy of the 14.5 million vehicles sold in 2012 was 23.8 mpg (9.88 liters/100 km), up 1.3 mpg from 2011 and up 2.9 mpg from 2008.

The high for 2012 was 24.2 mpg in October, with the low being 23.5 mpg in January, June and July. The Transportation Research Institute has tracked the average fuel economy of vehicles sold since October 2007, when the total was 20.1 mpg.

In December, the average fuel economy of new vehicles sold in the U.S. was 23.9 mpg, up 3.8 mpg from the value in October 2007, but down 0.2 mpg from November. The lower average in December could be explained by lower gas prices, as well as higher pickup truck sales.

December is traditionally a good month for the U.S. auto industry and sales were driven by pickup trucks, which also helped increase the average transaction price for light vehicles in the U.S. to $31,228, up about 2 percent from December 2011.

Gasoline prices averaged $3.30 a gallon last week, making gas prices the same as they were a year ago.