US: 2013 sees record fuel economy image

The fuel economy of the typical new vehicle sold in the US hit an all-time record in 2013 despite plunging fuel prices that helped drive a sharp increase in sales of pickup trucks and utility vehicles last year.

The average window sticker of new vehicles sold in the US in December was 24.8 mpg – down 0.2 mpg from the revised value in November, but up 4.7 mpg from the value in October 2007, the first month of monitoring by the University of Michigan Transportation Institute.

The average fuel economy of all vehicles sold during the 2013 calendar year was 24.8 miles per gallon, which was up 1 mile per gallon from the average fuel economy posted for 2012 and 3.9 mpg from 2008, according to the U-M survey. For the 2013 model year, which ended October 1, U-M reports the fuel economy rating for all vehicles is 24.7 mpg, which is the highest level ever.

The University of Michigan Eco-Driving Index – an index that estimates the average monthly emissions of greenhouse gases generated by an individual U.S. driver – stood at 0.80 in October, an improvement of 20% since October 2007.

At least part of the improvement in the fuel economy numbers comes from the growing number of electric and hybrid vehicles now found on American roads. Sales of battery-powered vehicles and hybrids totaled more than 578,000 units last year, up more than 100,000 units from 2012 and accounting for about 3.7% of all new autos sold in the U.S. last year, according Autodata Corp.