By on April 4, 2014

ARCO fuel station

The University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute says the U.S. new car fuel economy average climbed 0.3 mpg to 25.4 mpg in March.

Automotive News reports the average is the highest recorded since the university began collecting data in October 2007, being 5.3 mpg higher than the first recorded average that month. The institute’s Eco-Driving Index held at 0.80 in January, a 20 percent improvement since the EDI was also established in October 2007.

As for fuel consumption, a separate study found consumption to be 11 percent lower in 2012 than in 2004, reflecting both a decline in driving distance, and an increase in fuel economy. In 2012, the average per vehicle was 529 gallons.

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36 Comments on “March 2014 US New Car Fuel Economy Average Climbs To 25.4 MPG...”


  • avatar
    HerrKaLeun

    With all the EPA-faking ecoboost motors, what is real average mileage? 20 mpg?

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      These numbers are for “under the ideal testing conditions”. Not for the real world. No one in the real world drives their car the way it is tested for fuel economy.

      In most places where I’ve been, drivers take off like a bat out of hell when the light turns green, but eventually another red light gets them and the “bat out of hell” syndrome repeats itself.

      Anyone in an ICE car who got caught in stop and go gridlock on the freeway knows the agony of watching their gas gauge go down while they are stuck in traffic. This happened to us just a couple of weeks ago in a Phoenix, AZ, construction zone on I-10 – stuck in traffic idling for at least a half hour. Not good for fuel economy.

      These numbers are nice but they don’t reflect real-world fuel economy nor real-world drivers.

      And the same can be said for PEVs. Why do many run out of battery power while stuck in stop and go traffic that all roadside assistance vehicles now have generators on board?

      • 0 avatar
        Hummer

        True but a vehicle that has an appropriately sized engine is going to get closer to its estimates than an undersized engine that requires constant boost from turbos.

        But you know this.

        I think the bat out of hell deal is a syndrome associated with big cities, everyone that lives there are just crazy, and anyone going through gets mad it takes 20 minutes to go 4 miles.

        • 0 avatar
          highdesertcat

          All true! And you are right about big cities and the “bat out of hell” syndrome of jack-rabbit starts.

          But in a way, I’m also guilty of the “bat out of hell” syndrome living in a rural area along US54. There’s an acceleration lane that allows drivers entering US54 from my side road to get up to traffic speed (75mph+) before merging.

          And I don’t care how economical a car I choose to drive, going from the stop sign turning onto US54, whatever gas mileage the car maker and EPA advertise, I’m going to blow it getting up to speed with the 18-wheelers.

          I realize that this is different from many parts of the country where I have driven, from I-5 to I-95 and I-8, I-10, I-20, I-40, I-70 and I-80, but one thing I have noticed, especially when I was lumbering along driving a big rig, those little cars entering from the ramps are struggling to get up to speed.

          And that’s why I say that these fuel economy numbers are great for the CAFE of the car makers and the EPA, but I don’t believe they apply in the real world.

          Remember the Hyundai/Kia debacle of them claiming mpg stats but falling far short of those numbers in the real world.

          Most people are gullible. They actually believe these numbers can be achieved in the real world and then they are infuriated when they can’t meet those numbers.

      • 0 avatar
        TW5

        The UMI study was started to compare EPA mileage ratings for new cars with the provisions in the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (including updated CAFE standards).

        The researchers are not interested in examining the bad driving habits of the population.

    • 0 avatar
      heavy handle

      If you dig into the other reports on the U Mich site, the total number of light duty vehicles was 235 million in 2011, and total miles driven was 2.65 trillion. That’s an average of 11276 miles per car/light truck.
      Fuel consumed per registered light-duty vehicle in 2011 was 530 gallons.

      Based on those numbers, the average real-world mpg was 21.27.

      That seems about right. Going by sales figures, about half of the vehicles are pickups that get less than 20, and the other half are Camry/Accord/Altimas that get mid-to-high 20s.

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        Getting back to HerrKaLeun’s original question then, is the average real-world mpg 21.27?

        If it is, then I’m in deep ka-ka because none of my vehicles have ever cracked 20mpg, not even 19mpg! And 18mpg? Maybe on a good day, coming down the mountain with my foot on the brake pedal.

        Then again, none of my vehicles are known for fuel economy.

      • 0 avatar
        VoGo

        You’re comparing oranges and apples. The cited study focuses on new car sales, not average fleet, which is around 10 years old.

        • 0 avatar
          highdesertcat

          How many of the buyers of these new cars will believe the mpg numbers on the window sticker only to find out that they can’t get anywhere near them?

          • 0 avatar
            Russycle

            I don’t know. I’ve been looking at Caravans, they’re hiway rated at 25 mpg. Looking at Fuelly, there’s one guy regularly getting that or better. He fills up every 2 or 3 days, so one assumes he’s mostly putting on highway miles. Looking at the Cruze on Fuelly, EPA looks spot-on.

            No matter what number the EPA posts, it’s not going to be accurate for most people, because everyone drives differently. You won’t hit EPA numbers if you drive like a maniac, up hill. As the disclaimer says, for comparison only. Do they still say that?

    • 0 avatar
      daver277

      If you want to see fake numbers, check out the Canadian Government’s ratings;
      http://oee.nrcan.gc.ca/transportation/tools/fuelratings/fuel-consumption.cfm
      You find discover that a Dodge PU can get 36MPIG……..
      The federal government here belongs to the flat earth society and counts on the electorate not being able to do math.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    What’s ARCO?!

    And a photo of two cars which surely get 25.4mpg.

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      ARCO is the name of some gas stations in the western part of the US, along with Union76, Chevron, Shell, Exxon, etc. All these gas stations offer convenience stores and are located within cities as well as on the open roads.

    • 0 avatar
      bball40dtw

      Many of the Arcos where I used to live (Arizona) had a central payment terminal and only accepted debit, not credit. Just terrible.

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        I’ve tanked up at a few ARCO stations and they’re pretty modern now, many with pumps that take credit cards and dispense three grades of gasoline and one seasonal flavor of diesel (for cars, not big rigs).

        Since I always pay in cash, I have to go in to the store, pay the clerk who has to set the pump, gas up the vehicle, then go back in to the store to collect my change. It’s a pain but it works for me.

        One good thing, ever since the NEW $100 bill went into circulation, I have never been refused pre-paying for gas with a NEW $100 bill. Forget about the old ones, or the fifties. Since so many bogus ones of those are in circulation, only a fool would chance taking one and getting stuck with a counterfeit bill.

        • 0 avatar
          bball40dtw

          I preferred QuikTrip when we lived in Tucson.

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            I used to travel that corridor often, still do, and Tucson or Eloy is usually the place I get gas and answer nature’s call.

            But I think that Circle K bought up all the QuickTrip outlets, because there used to be one on 22nd Street and one on Miracle Mile, and both of those are now Circle K.

            My favorite place to get gas these days is in Eloy at the Pilot Truck stop. HUGE place with ALL the amenities.

            It’s away from all the Tucson traffic (I-10 has grown into six lanes in each direction near Congress) and the Nogales interchange is a mess with the Mexican Big Rigs turning onto I-10 (in either direction).

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            I’ve been to that Pilot station more than a few times. I had to go to the Phoenix area often.

            I miss living in Southern Arizona. We lived in a condo basically at the JW Marriot and could get to downtown or U of A in 10 minutes. We visit Arizona a few times a year, and my wife cries every time we leave. One thing I do not miss is spending so much time in Mexico. That’s more unique to my job at the time though.

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            Dude, you missed MLB Spring Training in Phoenix this year. We try to go every year and did again this year for about two weeks.

            Traffic is a nightmare in Phoenix at all hours of the day to where the HOV lane along the Interstate has to be opened to driver-only vehicles from 9am to 3pm just to lesses the congestion on the other lanes. Getting to/from anywhere in and around Phoenix requires premeditation these days.

            All that aside, if you can get away from “core” Phoenix to Tempe, Scottsdale, Chandler, and the like, life is good, living is easy and the sunsets are as clear as they ever were.

    • 0 avatar
      APaGttH

      ARCO stands for Atlantic Richfield Corporation. It is now part of British Petroleum (can’t give you an exact year of acquisition).

      They are on the west coast and their gas stations also have AM/PM convenience stores (think like a 7/11 or White Hen Pantry).

      They are known for having the lowest prices for gasoline of name brand stations on the west coast (typically). They also discount 10 cents a gallon for cash and debit over ATM.

      Some of their stations don’t even accept credit cards, but are debit/cash only. They were exclusively cash/debit in the 2000s – shifting back to accepting credit cards in the last few years.

      Tesoro is attempting to buy ARCO from British Petroleum. I don’t know if the deal is dead – it is being held up by regulators worried about continued consolidation at the pump, and the impact on prices.

      EDIT: Tesoro does own ARCO now – completing their purchase in late 2013.

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        I learn something every day I read ttac. Thank you.

      • 0 avatar
        ExPatBrit

        Most ARCO stations take cash , debit or credit cards at the pump nowadays.

        They charge extra for credit.

        They actually have something like a Techron additive too nowadays also and generally are very close to the Costco or supermarket gas prices.

        My Ranger gets better mileage on ARCO than Chevron, haven’t figured out why.

      • 0 avatar
        Scoutdude

        Way back in the late 70′s when every gas company had their own credit card ARCO made a big to do about getting rid of their credit cards. Not too long after a number of stations started offering discounts for cash. Eventually that pretty much went away in my area. However Tesoro purchasing ARCO brought credit cards back to ARCO stations. They resumed the previous practice of charging more if you use your credit card which in turn made just about every other station in my area start charging 10 cents more per gallon if you use your credit card. So now I haven’t bought gas at any place other than Costco or Sam’s Club. They usually have the same or better price than the nearest ARCO and at least at Costco I actually get a rebate for using my Costco Amex.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        You win for most informative answer to my question!

  • avatar
    seabrjim

    How cool! An ARCO station. Where is this? Not New Jersey. Havent seen one in decades. When I was a kid in the 60s they were Atlantic Rich field an they gave you an orange styrofoam ball to stick on your radio antenna. The abbreviation of ARCO started in the early 70s, I think.

    • 0 avatar

      Not sure, really. I know ARCO’s presence is on the West Coast and in Nevada and Arizona, while former parent company BP has the rest of the U.S.

    • 0 avatar
      shaker

      Actually, I think the Styrofoam ball was (supposed to be) red, to represent ARCO’s “Red Ball Service” meme – when gas stations treated motorists like royalty – they’d pump your gas, wash your windshield, and ask if you wanted your engine oil checked; then they would pop that silly little ball on your antenna!

      A really funny one was when Exxon was selling (I think for a buck) a stuffed little tiger tail with an elastic band that you would slip around the filler neck, and close the filler door (so people would see that you “Had a tiger in your tank”).

    • 0 avatar
      Lorenzo

      When Atlantic and Richfield merged in 1966, they had service stations on both coasts. Then ARCO bought Sinclair and regulators forced ARCO to give up some east coast stations, and when BP bought ARCO, they changed the rest of the east coast stations they didn’t shut down to BP stations. ARCO is pretty much a west coast company now, (bought out by refinery Tesoro last year) and getting most of its crude from Alaska for the California market, since US crude can’t be exported.

      Somehow, I managed to be old enough to remember when Atlantic was a separate company, with it’s slogan “Atlantic keeps your car on the go”, touting its high detergent gasoline that kept your engine’s innards clean while you drive. Atlantic was one of the two major sponsors of Red Sox games, the other being Rhode Island’s Narragansett Beer. That produced a lot of “Drink beer and get gas” jokes.

  • avatar
    I've got a Jaaaaag

    An ARCO? Great now I have Sir Mix-A-Lot’s “My Hooptie” stuck in my head.

  • avatar
    TW5

    The mpg improvements are welcome, but they are inadequate, as well. Consuming superfluous foreign oil costs the US economy about 1% GDP growth per year. We can’t afford that kind of foreign trade largesse anymore. The environment won’t complain if we burn less oil, either.

    • 0 avatar
      shaker

      +10

    • 0 avatar
      Drzhivago138

      Agreed. As a centrist among conservatives of varying degrees during politically-charged discussions in real life, I have to be careful what I say regarding climate change/environmental issues/pollution, but they all agree that one of the best ways to improve the US is to invest in the US. That generally means being a little smarter about driving, if only so less money goes to line the pockets of oil execs.

      And here’s something else: regardless of one’s position on climate change (that’s a whole ‘nother can of worms I don’t need to open up here), this is indisputable: We will eventually run out of oil. We might find another reserve somewhere to keep us going another 25, 50, 100 years, but at some point 99.9% of petroleum reserves will be gone, and wars will be fought and people will die over the .1%.

      I try my best to support all forms of renewable alternative energy, since we will absolutely never run out of wind or sunlight (at least for the next billion years), especially here on the prairies of Minnesota. Plus it frees up gasoline and (more importantly) diesel for agricultural and commercial transport use–you know, those guys who make more food with less land every year, and drive 15 hours a day, 7 days a week, just so we don’t have to worry about running out of Cheetos and Twinkies.

    • 0 avatar
      Lorenzo

      We’re actually using less oil than we did just a few years ago, though much of that progress was the result of a deep recession reducing economic activity. We’re importing less oil too, because of several advances in new fields, shale, and getting at long-known deposits that couldn’t be tapped with older technology. Many played out oil fields produced only 25%-35% of the estimated oil in those deposits. Technology not yet devised could tap the unused remainder, which is the majority of the deposits.

      As Drzhivago138 points out below, eventually we’ll run out of hydrocarbons, but I’m willing to agree with the former Saudi Oil Minister that we’re a resourceful species, and we’ll find new sources of energy long before the oil runs out. Meanwhile, cleaner running cars are preventing us from choking on the kind of fumes that were put out by 1960s and older cars.


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