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.