Americans buying more fuel-efficient cars

Average fuel consumption of US cars is continuing to fall

Despite Americans’ love of pickups, the average fuel economy is improving

Despite Americans’ love of pickups, the average fuel economy is improving


Sales of cars in the US, which were as ravaged by the financial storms of 2008-2013 as they where anywhere else, have lately climbed back to a healthy position. Indeed, July 2014 saw US car sales set records. Overall sales in the States rose by almost 9 per cent to 1.15 million cars, with Toyota and Honda in the ascendent as home-grown brands Ford and General Motors slipped back a little.

What was surprising, given that US buyers seem unable to shake off their passion for large, hulking SUVs, is that the average fuel economy of the US fleet is improving.

Back in October 2007, the University of Michigan’s transportation research institute began monitoring the average fuel economy of the American car fleet, based on actual sales, not just on the most economical models available.

Seven years ago, that figure stood at a level that would make any European buyer shudder with fuel bill anxiety – 20.8mpg. Now though, and in spite of the fact that Americans are continuing to desert their saloons and estates in favour of pickups and 4x4s, that figure now stands at an average of 25.6 – an improvement of just under a quarter.

“The fuel economy of new vehicles sold in the US during July fell just shy of the all-time high,” said the institute in a statement. “Average fuel economy of cars, light trucks, vans and SUVs purchased last month was 25.6 mpg, just off the record-high of 25.7 mpg in May, but up from 25.5 mpg in June. Vehicle fuel economy is now up 5.5 mpg from October 2007, the first month of monitoring.”