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In light of the current pain at the pumps, fuel economy is on all of our minds these days no matter what kind of car you drive. That being the case, it might not be surprising to you that the car we're buying are getting more fuel efficient. Don't believe us? The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has just revealed that the U.S. auto industry set a new record in overall fuel efficiency during the first half of the 2008 model year by averaging 26.8 mpg through March. That's up from an average of 26.6 mpg through the entire 2007 model year.
While this is certainly good news for both consumers and manufacturers that need to meet the government's mandated CAFE standards, the numbers used by the NHTSA aren't really representative of the real-world fuel mileage you should expect to achieve on the road. The testing standards were initially created in 1975 and automakers get certain credits for creating flex-fuel vehicles, which can artificially inflate their miles-per-gallon numbers. Additionally, automakers earn credits for surpassing the CAFE requirements and can carry these credits forward for up to three years. Still, the numbers are somewhat worthwhile when comparing the current model-year with those of the past. Expect to see the year-end numbers set another new record as consumers continue choosing smaller and more fuel efficient models over larger, gas-guzzling choices.

[Source: The Detroit News]


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 15 Comments
      • 6 Years Ago
      It is too bad we have to put up with the Federal Government micro-managing things they know little about - a free market. Vehicle gas mileage would take care of itself if left alone. Market forces always dictate what a manufacturer supplies to their customers. The primary problem we have is a politicized source of energy, not a lack of vehicles that achieve high miles per gallon.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Yeah right, because OPEC is totally free market. It's not like they try to control the price of oil by manipulating production quotas or anything.
      • 6 Years Ago
      They're throwing a celebration over a 0.2 mpg increase?
        • 6 Years Ago
        That's ~32 MPG for us UK people, still not amazing.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Halleleujah, somebody else talking about Pigovian taxes! They're an idea whose time has seriously come - total tax reform, 86 the punitive taxes and replace them with Pigovian taxes on consumption.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Jozi: Do remember that these are US gallons, not Imperial (UK) gallons.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Er... I think I missed a "0" there. Always was terrible with numbers.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Multiply that 0.2 mpg by all the vehicles sold and it becomes more significant ... although the real news is simply that it's increasing and not declining. (And since the Olympics are going on, do you gripe when someone celebrates going 0.2" longer or 0.2 seconds faster?)

        What a shock, higher fuel prices encourage fuel efficiency. I've said for years that CAFE is the wrong approach, that they should slowly but steadily raise taxes on fuel instead to give buyers a reason to seek out efficient vehicles. (This is known as a Pigovian tax.) No politician had the guts to advocate a policy the public would have hated.
        • 6 Years Ago
        It's all about perspective...

        Multiply it by 250 million vehicles and suddenly we've saved 5,000,000 miles worth of fuel.
        • 6 Years Ago
        A drop in gas guzzler sales leads to slight increase in fleet millage. I hardly think the automakers are the ones to be congratulated for that.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Well someone had to throw their .02 (cents) in! Right?
      • 6 Years Ago
      Well, with truck sales/volume in the proverbial toilet, it seems like increased CAFE should be automatic.
      • 6 Years Ago
      "The testing standards were initially created in 1975..."

      Didn't NHTSA change their test methods last year or something and it was a huge big deal since the Prius went from 50mpg to 40 or something like that?
        • 6 Years Ago
        Yea, but for some reason the CAFE laws still use the old system. I think this has something to do with the automakers telling Congress what they want legislation to say, rather than accurately measuring fuel economy.
        • 6 Years Ago
        No, the NHTSA has not changed their fuel economy testing or calculations. They still don't do it. They leave that up to my friends over at the EPA.
        But to answer your question, they adjusted the way they alter the fuel econ test results from the actual results. The FTP75 and HWFET results are always adjusted in some unscientific way. sad, really.
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