Despite a slight dip, the average fuel economy for new vehicle sales returned last month to an average of 25.4 mpg.

This matches the average posted for January, following a drop to 25.2 mpg in February.

The report comes from Director Michael Sivak, Ph.D., and Project Manager Brandon Schoettle with the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI). They calculate the monthly average by compiling monthly sales of cars, SUVs, vans and pickups and applying the EPA’s combined city/highway fuel economy ratings to each model.

March 2015 Avg MPG

Sivak said this upswing in average fuel economy is likely tied to rising gas prices.

UMTRI has been tracking fuel economy since October 2007, when 20.1 mpg was the average. Vehicles have become steadily more efficient since then, peaking last August with an all-time high of 25.8 mpg.

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Vehicle emissions are also improving, according to Sivak and Schoettle. Average monthly emissions are reported with the Eco-Driving Index (EDI) by estimating the miles driven and the amount of fuel used by individual U.S. drivers.

“During January, the EDI remained at 0.82 (the lower the value, the better) for the second straight month,” stated a University post. “The index currently shows emissions of greenhouse gases per driver of newly purchased vehicles are now down 18-percent, overall, since October 2007.”


(Photo by Tim Boyle/Getty Images)