Fleet Average Fuel Economy Drops Again

Perhaps because of what TrueCar.com claims has been a “unseasonable drop” in gas prices recently, fleet wide average fuel economy for passenger vehicles sold in the U.S. dropped again in June, marking the third consecutive monthly decline.

At 23 miles average per gallon for vehicles sold in June, versus 23.2 mpg in May and 23.3 mpg in April, the statistics appear to be going in the wrong direction, especially as tighter Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards have targeted 34.4 mpg for cars and light trucks by 2016, just four years away.

Nevertheless, despite the drop in fleet wide fuel efficiency, there is some encouragement. The University of Michigan’s Transportation Research Institute reports that even with June’s drop, fuel economy average is still 3.9 percent ahead compared with a year earlier (the UMTRI predicting an average of 23.6 mpg for the year (versus 22.5 in 2011). Furthermore, sales of alternative fuel vehicles were 54.5 percent greater in June 2012, compared with the same period in 2011; with over 42,000 units sold last month. This represents an interesting scenario, especially that from, a high of $3.90 a gallon back in April, gas has dropped to a nationwide average of around $3.35, according to the American Automobile Association.

If gas prices continue to drop (which they’re likely to do based on many economic forecasts predicting a world wide slowdown in growth next year) it could provide us with an interesting scenario, especially if sales of hybrids and EVs continue to increase. Or, will Americans fall back on tradition, flocking back to big trucks and SUVs in droves, once prices drop, say under $3.00 even? There could be an incentive to do so, especially as many alternative fuel vehicles still boast relatively high sticker prices, while larger trucks and sport utilities often being heavily discounted by dealers to move them off lots. And we all know, that in lean economic times, it’s all too easy to look at the purchase price of a vehicle, rather than the total cost of ownership.

University of Michigan via Autoblog Green


  • dutchinchicago

    When people are talking about alternative fuel vehicles I hope that they are not talking about that silly sticker with the word flex fuel on huge suburbans that allows them to park in the alternative fuel parking spots at Wholefoods.

  • Van

    I think the Prius C will finally begin to dent the mass market and move the needle above 23 MPG. Time will tell. Rather than selling a few hybrids with high mileage, we need to sell most cars as hybrids with above 35 combined MPG.

    Beside the Prius, we have the Camry Hybrid, the Avalon Hybrid, the Fusion, and the Lincoln clone, but they do not sell as well as the gas guzzlers. Nissan and Kia and its clone also sell high mileage hybrids.

    But instead, Government motors undersells with e-assist, and flex fuel, while hiding under the halo of the $42,000 Volt. Give me a break.

  • Lynn Smith

    While we’re at it why don’t we pass laws to downsize people from the current obese size to say normal. Then I also think we should stop subsidizing having more and more kids and penalize or tax more to reduce population growth. We’d have a better world for it. And maybe we could make TV food ads after suppertime illegal. And lets make daily exercise a law. Brushing your teeth should be in there to. Don’t you think.

  • Modern Marvel Fan

    Another clueless comment by Van.

    Prius C won’t do much since its sales number don’t really matter all that much.

    The top 10 selling cars are Camry, Malibu, Accord, Corolla, Focus, Altima…etc. Those cars dominate the MPG. If their MPG improves, then it will make a major different. Also, top pickups such as F-150 and Silverado will make even bigger impact if they increase their MPG as well…

    And there is NOTHING wrong with GM making the Volt. It is by the far the best plug-ins out there. The sales number is higher than any other model. Plus, the Volt outsold 80% of all hybrids models out there and it beats Prius Plugin by a long margin…

  • Van

    Hi MMFan, thanks for your thoughtful fact based analysis.

    The fleet average has been near 23 MPG for quite some time because of the mix of vehicle purchases, with big ol P/U trucks and SUV’s leading the way. The take rate of the hybrid models is too low because the price differential seems high compared with the economic savings.

    Yes, the Volt outsold the Prius PHV by a 2 to 1 margin the last two months. However, Toyota hybrids outsell GM hybrids by a wide margin.

    And GM uses the same level of deception found in your post, boosting sales claims with a 79% increase in sales to the federal government.