US New-Car Fuel Economy Average Climbs To 25.5 MPG In May 2015

Cameron Aubernon
by Cameron Aubernon

Things are looking up for U.S. new-car fuel economy, as the average climbed 0.3 mpg in May to 25.5 mpg.

The new average is also 5.4 mpg better than the 20.1 mpg first averaged in October 2007 when the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute began measuring U.S. new-car fuel economy, Edmunds reports.

Factors for the increase include rising fuel prices and increased sales of more fuel-efficient models like the Chrysler 200 and Honda HR-V. The average price for a gallon of regular per AAA stands at $2.75, though the average is lower than the $3.66 paid at the pump at this time last year. However, the group says the cost of fuel may have peaked by now, and is expected to fall through the rest of the summer thanks to stabilized oil prices and refineries finishing their seasonal maintenance routines.

Meanwhile, sales of trucks and SUVs are still going strong thanks to lower prices at the pump, and will likely continue as those prices fall back down from their current peak. Said sales have knocked down the U.S. new-car average by as much as 0.8 mpg since August 2014, when the average hit an all-time high of 25.8 mpg.

[Image credit: University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute]

Cameron Aubernon
Cameron Aubernon

Seattle-based writer, blogger, and photographer for many a publication. Born in Louisville. Raised in Kansas. Where I lay my head is home.

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  • Sirwired Sirwired on Jun 04, 2015

    What measurement did they use? EPA? CAFE? Something entirely different?

    • Cameron Aubernon Cameron Aubernon on Jun 04, 2015

      According to UMTRI: "The average sales-weighted fuel economy was calculated from the monthly sales of individual models of light-duty vehicles (cars, SUVs, vans, and pickup trucks) and the combined city/highway fuel-economy ratings published in the EPA Fuel Economy Guide (i.e., window sticker ratings) for the respective models. For both monthly and model year averages, sales-weighted arithmetic means were calculated. (The arithmetic mean was used here to determine the average of window sticker ratings, not the average fuel consumption rate.) The bars in the graph show the average for each model year. Vehicles purchased from October 2007 through September 2008 were assumed to be model year 2008. Analogous assumptions were made for vehicles purchased in each following model year. The fuel-economy information was available for 99.7% of vehicles purchased. "For cases in which the EPA Fuel Economy Guide contained multiple fuel-economy ratings for a vehicle model, the average of these ratings was used (without regard to sales figures for each specific engine or vehicle-model variant). Additionally, when a vehicle model was sold during a particular model year but it is not listed in that year’s EPA Fuel Economy Guide, the fuel-economy rating(s) from the most recently available year were used. Finally, for very low sales-volume manufacturers (e.g., Ferrari, Rolls-Royce, etc.), all vehicle models for that manufacturer were aggregated and one average fuel-economy rating was calculated. Analogously, the sales figures for such manufacturers and models were also aggregated each month. (Data for recent months are occasionally updated in the underlying EPA data source, possibly resulting in small changes to recent fuel economy values.)"

  • Turf3 Turf3 on Jun 04, 2015

    Please see my comments on last month's identical story regarding the appropriate and inappropriate use of data.

    • See 3 previous
    • Heavy handle Heavy handle on Jun 05, 2015

      turf3, While you do have a point for small month-to-month variations, it's tough to argue that bigger long-term trends (like the 8 year trend charted above) can be dismissed as statistical noise. It's like the old "19 times out of 20" rule. The odds of being wrong 104 months in a row are minimal, unless you can demonstrate that there is something fundamentally wrong with the data.

  • TW5 TW5 on Jun 04, 2015

    Well, at least people will have to shut up about America's truck/suv buying binge for a month.....right? I know chicken-little gets the clickbait traffic, but most of these buyers are swapping their old vehicles for new vehicles with equal or superior mpg. Midsize sedans of 5-6 years ago get the same mpg as a modern CUV. A guy who replaces his old truck with a new truck is getting better mileage as well.