US: robust pickup and SUV sales lower the average fuel economy image

According to research conducted by the University of Michigan, the recovery in demand for pick-up trucks and sport utility vehicles has finally taken its toll on the average fuel-economy of new autos sold in the US.

Researchers at the University said the average fuel economy compiled from the mandatory window-sticker mileage figures posted by automakers show the figure at 25.3 mpg for September, lower by 0.5 mpg from August.

“This large drop likely reflects the increased sales of light trucks and SUVs,” said the authors in a statement. “Females tended to be more concerned than males about the environmental impact,” added U-M researcher Michael Sivak.

The University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI) has been keeping tabs on the fuel economy since 2007, and the study’s authors also pointed out that although the rate of increase in average fuel economy has been losing steam in 2014, the figure is still 5.2 mpg better than the one accounted in October 2007, the first month of monitoring by UMTRI.

U-M’s Eco-Driving Index, an estimate of the average monthly emissions of greenhouse gases that each US driver generates, was also at a record (low) figure of 0.77 in July. That means the average new-vehicle driver had 23% lower emissions than in October 2007.