New Car Fuel Economy Reaches All-Time High

The Chevrolet Impala was the 10th best selling car in January. It gets 30 mpg on the highway.

The Chevrolet Impala was the 10th best selling car in January. It gets 30 mpg on the highway. (GM)

The Obama administration announced initial rules that would raise the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards to 54.5 miles per gallon in the near future, but it isn’t as if automakers haven’t been attempting to increase the overall fuel economy of their cars without the heavy hand of government regulation.

Case in point: a newly released study by the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute shows that the average fuel economy of the new cars bought by consumers in January reached their highest levels ever, hitting 23.0 mpg.

The study has been calculating the average fuel economy of vehicles sold in the United States each month by taking the sales of cars, SUVs, vans and pickup trucks and their EPA estimated fuel-economy ratings. Researchers say they’ve been able to obtain fuel economy information on 99.8 percent of the cars purchased since October 2007.

In the four years since the the University of Michigan study began, there’s been a steady trend of improvement. In 2008, the average was just 18.9 miles per gallon. It improved to 19 miles per gallon in 2009, 20.7 in 2010 and 21.2 in 2011. That means cars sold in January 2012 are getting 4.1 miles per gallon more than models sold just four years earlier.

“The recent economic downturn, coupled with rising gas prices, has led to an increased interest in purchasing more fuel-efficient vehicles,” says Brandon Schoettle, of the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute.

And we’re sure consumers will appreciate the improvements in fuel economy when they hit the pumps, especially if gas prices rise throughout the spring and summer months, as they normally do.

About Cecil Helton

Cecil Helton Cecil Helton is a U.S.-based writer and editor with passions for cars, motorcycles, boats, technology and social media. Much of his professional life since 1996 has been web-centric, and he’s written and developed content on a variety of subjects. His work in the houseboat industry received wide acclaim, such as winning the 1999 Cisco Systems Growing with Technology award and being named one of five finalists in the manufacturing sector of the 2000 Computerworld-Smithsonian Awards. As an Air Force brat, he spent much of his childhood in a two-year cycle of moving to a new place, making new friends, establishing a life, and then moving again. Destinations included: Kentucky, Illinois, Texas, the Greek isle of Crete, California and Ohio. Today you’ll find Cecil coping with his 15 year old son’s decision to pursue a motorcycle license at the same time he gets his driver’s license, being active across the web on multiple social media sites, and of course, writing articles and creating content on automotive and car insurance related topics right here at

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