Good Job, America: Cars Are Far More Efficient, Cleaner Than 2007

May 7, 2014

Smaller and more efficient vehicles are becoming more popular in the U.S., so it should be no surprise to learn that fuel economy figures have climbed steadily since 2007.

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New data from the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI) now pegs the combination of average fuel economy and emissions to be at its lowest level since 2007.

The UMTRI's latest monthly study shows how the rise in average fuel economy has gone in lockstep with drops in the emissions of greenhouse gases from new vehicles over the same time period. UMTRI uses a specific algorithm to study the average amount of fuel used for distances driven by newly purchased vehicles, as well as the distance driven per individual driver. From that data, UMTRI produces its Eco-Driving Index.

February's Eco-Driving Index came in at the lowest levels since UMTRI started tracking the data in October 2007. That's despite the fact that distances driven still sit at 95 percent of what they did in 2007--it's the amount of fuel used that has dropped considerably.

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The index also calculates vehicle emissions, and the latest data shows a 23-percent reduction in overall vehicle emissions during the last six and half years.

Since the EDI bases its data on distance driven, it runs on a two-month lag, but the institute also tracks fuel economy using a sales-weighted average. In April, the average fuel economy was 25.2 mpg, which dropped from its record high in March of 25.4 mpg. Even with this slight dip, it still represents a significant increase in fuel economy from October 2007’s average of 20.1 mpg.

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