Fuel Economy Up Slightly Last Month

As the sales of SUVs and pickups leveled off in January, the average fuel economy of light vehicles purchased in the U.S. that month went up from December, albeit slightly, a University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute report said.

The average window sticker rating of cars, SUVs, vans and pickups purchased in January was 25.1 mpg — up from December’s 24.9 mpg.

“This increase likely reflects the month-to-month seasonal decrease in sales of pickup trucks and SUVs,” researchers Michael Sivak and Brandon Schoettle wrote in an email.

U.S. SUV sales in January were down slightly, 1.2 percent, from January 2015 to 83,562. Pickup sales in January rose slightly, 1.5 percent, from January 2015 to 168,751.

January’s fuel economy was down 0.3 mpg from a year earlier. However, with the exception of December 2015, fuel economy has now been at or above 25 mpg in 23 out of the past 24 months.

Fuel economy was down 0.7 mpg from August 2014’s peak of 25.8 yet still up 5.0 mpg since the institute’s monitoring began in October 2007.

According to AAA the national average for regular gasoline was $1.783 per gallon on Wednesday, down from $2.067 one year ago.

A second study by the institute tracked the average monthly greenhouse gas emissions of each new-vehicle driver in the country. The University of Michigan Eco-Driving Index for November was 0.82, down 0.01 from the revised value for October.

According to the report, that value indicates that the average new-vehicle driver produced 18 percent lower emissions in November 2015 than in October 2007 but 5 percent higher than the record low of 0.78 in August 2014.

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