People in the health and fashion industries are fond of saying things like, "30 is the new 20". Now, automakers are saying it, too -- at least when it comes to fuel economy.
Thirty miles per gallon is a sweet spot in the auto industry -- far better than the underwhelming 20 mpg threshold, but not quite 40 mpg, which can require automakers to shrink vehicles or deploy costly hybrid technology. Now, General Motors says that it's become the first U.S. automaker to sell over 1,000,000 vehicles that achieve 30 mpg within a single year.
According to a company press release, GM currently offers 13 high-volume models that achieve 30 mpg or better:
(Note: those stats are for 2013 model-year vehicles. Most reflect only highway mpgs, though the Cruze, Sonic, Spark, and Volt figures are combined city/highway.)
According to Mark Reuss, the president of GM North America, the company isn't about to rest on its laurels, either: "In 2013, we'll introduce new diesel, eAssist and plug-in vehicles in the United States and expand the availability of turbocharged four-cylinder engines. This will give us the most technologically diverse range of fuel-efficient cars and crossovers in the industry."
Some of those upcoming vehicles include:
On the one hand, this seems like evidence that GM is being aggressive about promoting its fuel-efficient lineup. Clearly, the company understands the value of fuel economy, which should serve GM well as the 2025 CAFE standards loom nearer, raising fleetwide economy benchmarks above 54 mpg. It should also help GM's bottom line, since consumers continue to rate fuel economy as one of their most important criteria when choosing a new car.
On the other hand, it seems a little dicey for GM to focus so heavily on the fuel efficiency of its vehicles given the current scrutiny being directed at fuel economy claims. As you might recall, Hyundai spent a lot of time crowing about its 40+ mpg lineup, which in light of recent events may not have been such a great idea (or accurate, for that matter). Ford is experiencing similar problems -- though those might be mitigated as the company talks with the EPA to develop better tests for hybrid vehicles.
The biggest takeaway is this, though: fuel-efficient vehicles make up a growing percentage of GM's lineup. Between stiff new federal regulations and consumer concerns about fuel costs, that's not likely to change. Ultimately, that could give GM a strong sales position down the road.