Newsflash: Over the last few decades, cars have gotten both heavier and more powerful in addition to getting somewhat better fuel mileage. No shocker, right? Still, it's interesting to actually sit down and take a good look at the data to see what additional information can be gleaned.

For instance, Christopher R. Knittel from the Institute of Transportation Studies at the University of California, Davis, suggests that cars could be much more fuel efficient than they currently are. The catch? We'd need to revert back to the size, weight and horsepower levels of vehicles from around 1980, which is highly unlikely indeed. Who's ready to trade in their 2009 Cadillac CTS for the above model from 1980?

Interestingly, Knittel's study finds that American automakers are slightly above the curve when it comes to the specific efficiency of a given vehicle size, especially for light trucks. All things considered, though, Honda makes the most efficient passenger vehicles.

In conclusion, this report suggests that future automobiles must downsize if they are going to have any hope of meeting the latest CAFE standards put in place by the Obama Administration. We're certainly fine with that, and we also hope to see technologies like turbocharging and direct injection make an impact on overall efficiency figures over the next few years.

[Source: ITS Davis via Green Car Reports]

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