Hyundai is the most fuel-efficient automaker in America. That’s according to the Environmental Protection Agency’s latest annual fuel economy report (pdf). In lab tests to determine combined city-highway fuel economy of cars and trucks, Hyundai’s fleet achieved 30.1 miles per gallon. The Korean company is the only automaker to top 30 mpg.

“Our thoughtful application cost-effective, fuel-efficient technologies has helped us achieve our goal of leading the industry in fuel economy ahead of schedule,” said John Krafcik, president and CEO, Hyundai Motor America. Last year, Hyundai’s leadership promised to achieve the government-mandated 2016 CAFE standard of 35.5 miles per gallon by 2015.

The latest EPA numbers indicate that the Hyundai is moving faster than anticipated. Last year, Krafcik told, “We’re taking fuel efficiency higher and faster than any other carmaker. We’re going to pass Toyota and Honda by 2015.” The company is now promising to extend its lead by launching direct injection and turbocharging technologies, as well as introducing its first hybrid in the US—the 2011 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid. “In this age, fuel efficiency is the new zero-to-60 time. It’s more socially relevant,” Krafcik said.

The runner-up carmakers in the EPA’s 2009 list of top five fuel-efficient carmakers are Honda (29.7 mpg), Volkswagen (29.6 mpg), Toyota (29.4 mpg), and Kia (28.0 mpg.)

Efficiency = Sales

Hyundai’s move to a more efficient lower-priced fleet of vehicles is resonating with consumers. While auto sales were relatively flat in November 2009, Hyundai’s sales surged by 46 percent. The automaker sold 28,045 vehicles, led by a 93 percent jump in sales of its compact Hyundai Accent and a 52 percent increase for Sonata sedans. High quality, low prices, and strong warranties helped Hyundai make its gains.