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Who'd A Thunk? Study Shows Americans Buying More Fuel Efficient Cars

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On: Wed, Apr 25, 2012 at 9:37AM | By: Chris Weiss

Who'd A Thunk? Study Shows Americans Buying More Fuel Efficient Cars

Americans may not yet be keen on buying multiple hybrids, but they are making a sure move toward more fuel efficient cars. With gas prices bubbling toward record highs, we probably didn't need a study to tell us what intuition is already whispering in our ears. But a study confirms it.

The University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute, which has been following these things for about four years, said this month that average fuel economy of new vehicles purchased in March topped 24 mpg for the first time ever. Average fuel economy took a small but notable step from 23.9 mpg in February to 24.1 mpg in March. That's a rise of 4 mpg/20 percent from October 2007, the first month that the Institute conducted the study.

While high gas prices have been one reason for the increasing fuel economy of new vehicle sales, automaker improvements on engine and vehicle efficiency have also played a role. GM North America President Mark Reuss told the Detroit News that 40 percent of its vehicles now boast 30 mpg highway, up from 16 percent just three years ago. Automakers are under pressure from the US government to meet increasingly strict CAFE standards, which now mandate fleet fuel economy of 54.5 mpg by 2025.

US automakers have turned to smaller, more efficient cars in a way they'd been reticent to in the past. Last year, cars from the American Big Three made up over 25 percent of the US compact and subcompact market, an increase from 20 percent in 2010.

Of course, gas prices, which hit a record high in that period between late 2007 and early 2012, have also impacted consumer vehicle purchase decisions. Gas prices are likely to reach a record high again within the next few months, so we'd expect the increase in fuel efficient vehicles will continue.


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