The University of Michigan has crunched the numbers and found that the average new car fuel economy has reached an all-time high of 25.4 mpg. Updated on April 2nd, 2014, the EPA’s Fuel Economy Guide for 2013 includes statistics of 99.8% of new cars sold in the U.S. in the year 2013.
The EPA began its report on average fuel economy when the average teetered between 20.1 and 20.4 mpg during the last quarter of 2007. Over the past 78 months, the largest increases can be seen annually from September to October. This period during 2009 experienced a full gallon increase in economy, the largest single month increase and more than three times the 0.3 mpg jump that occurred during March 2014.This big jump in fuel economy can be at least partily attributed to the Cash for Clunkers program that was enacted in June of 2009. This year has shown a 0.4 mpg rise while 2012 saw a 1.0 mpg increase over 2012, the biggest single year increase in the last six years.
A previous report by the University of Michigan revealed stats on the 83 years prior to the beginning of the EPA’s study (1923-2006). This study states that in 1923 the fuel efficiency average was only 14 mpg and actually decreased by 2.1 miles over the course of the next 50 years.
During the 1970’s, a fuel crisis forced manufacturers to improve fuel economy and lead to a gain of 5 mpg (16.9) by 1991. Following these years of prosperity the numbers continued to rise, albeit slowly, as 2006 saw an average of 17.2 mpg, only a 0.3 increase over the 23 years before.
While averages may have been low in the dawning of the industry, some models managed to still receive respectable numbers. In 1923, the Ford Model T still pull out an impressive 25 miles gallon. One look at a Model T showcases the simplicity of their design and the lack of modern day amenities that allow this 1,200 lb car to get 25 mpg out of a 2.9L 20hp engine. As we make the switch to lightweight materials, we can continue to add features while decreasing weight, bringing us past the limits of current technology and a few miles further down the road.