Average fuel economy of purchased new vehicles, January 2013 (via UMTRI)Enlarge Photo
Good news for hypermilers: the fuel economy of new cars sold has hit an all-time high. The average new vehicle purchased in January 2013 earned 24.5 mpg.
The data comes from Dr. Michael Sivak and Brandon Schoettle at the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute. It's based on U.S. auto sales figures and the EPA combined city/highway fuel-economy rating for each model sold. (For more on UMTRI's methodology, click here.)
When UMTRI began tracking new-vehicle fuel economy in October 2007, the figure sat at 20.1 mpg. Some years have seen stronger progress than others -- in fact, 2010 saw almost no uptick at all. But with the arrival of model-year 2012 cars, things really began to take off. Not coincidentally, those vehicles debuted around the same time that the EPA released its much-discussed CAFE regulations, which set fuel economy standards through 2025. Coincidence?
What does this mean for you? If you're looking for a new vehicle, you'll be faced with a growing number of fuel-efficient choices. Some of those will be slightly more expensive hybrids, but there are plenty of models with conventional powertrains to peruse, too.
If you're selling a vehicle and you've got a fuel-sipper on your hands, you're in great shape. Used-car values are sky high, in part because automakers sold fewer new vehicles during the Great Recession, resulting in a shortage of used cars today. With gas hovering just above $3.50 per gallon, used-car shoppers are paying good money for vehicles that go farther with less fuel.
Have you bought a new vehicle lately? Was fuel economy a concern? Were you overwhelmed with efficient options, or maybe not so much? Share your thoughts in the comments below.