Drivers in the United States not only enjoy some of the world’s lowest gasoline prices, they’re also getting more miles out of every gallon their vehicles consume than ever before.
Over nearly six vehicular model years, the average fuel efficiency of all cars and light trucks sold in the U.S. has risen more than 19 percent, according to the latest figures from Michael Sivak and Brandon Schoettle from the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute. The university defines a model year as starting in October.
For the 10 months of the current 2013 model year, the average miles per gallon for a vehicle bought in the U.S. has averaged 24.7. In 2007-08 that figure was 20.8.
“If you look the current model year, with two months left to go, it’s up by 1.2 [mpg] compared to last year when it increased by 1.0. Overall, there’s an upward trend,” Sivak, research professor at the UMTRI, told International Business Times.
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The ascent of hybrid vehicles has certainly played a role in this increase, offsetting the dismal mileage of muscle cars and giant pickup trucks. But even vehicles in the gas-guzzling classes are guzzling less.
“There are two main factors underlying this improvement,” said Sivak, one of the head researchers for the university’s Eco-Driving Index. “One is that the technology is improving — I don’t want to diminish the importance of that. The other factor is demand for better mileage from consumers. Even when they’re buying models within a certain class, they’re still looking for fuel efficiency within that class.”
So what are the most fuel efficient cars in the market?
According to the Environmental Protection Agency’s latest figures from December there are five vehicles (excluding 100-percent electrics) getting at least 34 miles per gallon: the Toyota Prius compact and midsized, the Ford C-MAX Energi plug-in hybrid midsized, the Scion IQ subcompact, the Audi A3 diesel station wagon and the Volkswagen Jetta SportWagen diesel.
There are five electric vehicles getting the electric equivalent of over 100 miles per gallon: the Smart ForTwo electric two-seater, the Scion IQ E minicompact, the Mitsubishi i-MiEV subcompact, the Ford Focus electric compact and the Honda Fit EV.