New cars sold in the US had a record-high fleetwide fuel economy, up about 14 percent over the past four years, the Detroit Bureau reports, citing the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI). New US vehicles sold in 2012 averaged 23.8 miles per gallon, up six percent from the 22.5 mpg achieved in 2011. High gas prices earlier in the year and a broadening range of both smaller vehicles and electrified cars helped push MPG numbers.

In fact, GM says it was the first US automaker to sell more than one million vehicles in the US in one year with fuel economy of at least 30 mpg on the highway. There was a hiccup in the upward trend, though, since December's new-vehicle MPG numbers fell slightly from November's, likely a result of falling gas prices.

Either way, Americans are buying more advanced powertrain vehicles than ever. US sales of hybrids, plug-ins and diesels last year jumped 63 percent to 540,181 units. More impressively, plug-in vehicle sales almost tripled in 2012 to 49,962 units, and that's not including low-volume cars like the Tesla Model S and Fisker Karma.


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  • 19 Comments
      Dave
      • 2 Months Ago
      The average new car price is over $30,000. Thats ~$450 per month. Comprehensive insurance is ~$100 per month Taxes, parking, tires, maintenance is at least another ~$100 per month Total $655 per month. So $158 per month (12k miles per year, $3.75 per gallon, 23.8 mpg) hardly enters into the new car buying decision.
        Spec
        • 2 Months Ago
        @Dave
        Of course that is not a very rational way to look at it. That $158/month will rise over time. If you pay an extra $158/month for the car payment to get an EV, that car payment amount won't ever go up. And it will end eventually whereas the gas payments never stop and never stop going up. (The electricity payments also never stop but they are much cheaper and won't go up as fast.)
        Joeviocoe
        • 2 Months Ago
        @Dave
        You make a rational point... until you said, "hardly enters into the new car buying decision". Gasoline prices are WAY more volatile than any of the other expenses you mentioned. And people actually value stability in a way that throws out normal, static calculations. There are plenty of polls that support that gasoline costs DO IN FACT enter heavily in the new car buying decision. Because people can budget easily for those other expenses which are known and don't fluctuate much... but oil shocks do happen... and what is in the budget for $3.75/gal right now... might NOT be in the budget when a hurricane hits a place with a lot of refineries. Gasoline prices are the Devil you DON'T know.
          Joeviocoe
          • 2 Months Ago
          @Joeviocoe
          "gasoline prices are becoming less volatile in the USA now that domestic production is rising." Not true... although oil production in the U.S. is rising, and we are getting much from Canada... the Saudis still have the Lion's share and can effect global prices just the same. If the Middle East were to have problems in their production, Europe oil prices will rise, and Canadian oil goes to the best price, and we have to bid higher to get the same oil. I see no evidence that gasoline prices are less volatile nowadays. The economy has been in recession, and may give you the ILLUSION of stability.
          Dave
          • 2 Months Ago
          @Joeviocoe
          "Gasoline prices are WAY more volatile than any of the other expenses you mentioned. " If anything, gasoline prices are becoming less volatile in the USA now that domestic production is rising.
          Spec
          • 2 Months Ago
          @Joeviocoe
          Joe is correct . . . just because there is more domestic production that does not eliminate volatility. Oil is a global market and the global price affects what you will pay here. And ironically, building the Keystone pipeline will likely raise oil prices for USA consumers because that oil stranded in the mid-West will then be able to be sold on international markets thus raising its price. The oil companies will benefit but USA consumers won't. But a lot of them are being tricked into thinking that they will benefit from the pipeline. Suckers.
        Dave
        • 2 Months Ago
        @Dave
        Of course, if you're a traveling salesman who does 50,000 miles per year, that's a different story.
      • 2 Months Ago
      US economy continuously falls down from 2009. But I agree with your opinion that fuel economy was reaches high always because selling of vehicles was also high in US.
      Spec
      • 2 Months Ago
      23.8MPG? What does that number include? Every vehicle sold including 18-wheelers? Just 2 axle vehicles? Just passenger vehicles including SUVs? If it is the latter then that number is still pathetic.
      Levine Levine
      • 2 Months Ago
      Since pickup trucks are among the most popular vehicles purchased in USA, today, especially the F150, increasing the mpg of pickup trucks will significantly increase the average national mpg. Let's hope the auto makers get the message.
      Eideard
      • 2 Months Ago
      My fellow Americans are still dumb as a hoe handle. Yes, I realize that "ignorant" is preferred and PC; but, being unwilling, unmotivated, to keep up with widely-understood improvements in technology, lifestyle for a whole populace - is dumb. Three generations of my family made the decision to switch to energy-efficient motor vehicles starting 50 years ago. We rejected the ego attention that US carmakers relied on for decades to sell crap cars. We're happy to be moving back to American cars - slowly reappearing in the mix at any family gathering. The cultural lag in technology has to be laid at the feet of manufacturers and their flunkies in Congress. Yes, it's industry-specific. Otherwise, we'd still be watching standard-def, black-and-white TV.
        Spec
        • 2 Months Ago
        @Eideard
        " We're happy to be moving back to American cars" This is very true. Until recently, you pretty much were FORCED to buy foreign if you wanted something that was really fuel efficient. It is nice that there are now very good fuel efficient American cars like the Tesla, Volt, C-Max (with or without Energi), Fusion (with or without Energi), Focus electric, etc.
        EZEE
        • 2 Months Ago
        @Eideard
        Why, 5000 years ago, my family anticipated this and I me misled have been leading above the ignorant masses because I me myself me saw ahead of time so that whole ignorant people blinding didnt follow my lead, I me, myself me laughed smugly as they all died in firey pits while I calmly drove around laughing at their pain because I me myself me me me was so far superior of all around me. I saw this all modestly, about I, me, myself and my family.
      usbseawolf2000
      • 2 Months Ago
      23.8 MPG average is both City and Highway combined. We shouldn't be looking at just the highway. When both are combined, city gets 55% and highway gets 45%. City MPG is more important.
        SVX pearlie
        • 2 Months Ago
        @usbseawolf2000
        GM's 30 mpgh number isn't a bad metric, as it tracks similarly to a combined number, but "30" is better than "25" from a marketing standpoint.
        Alfonso T. Alvarez
        • 2 Months Ago
        @usbseawolf2000
        Only if you do more city driving than highway driving is city MPG more important - there are a huge number of commuters who drive much less than the 55% city that the combined rating is based on.
      mylexicon
      • 2 Months Ago
      "There was a hiccup in the upward trend, though, since December's new-vehicle MPG numbers fell slightly from November's, likely a result of falling gas prices." It had nothing to do with falling gasoline prices and everything to do with truck incentives to reduce oversupply. Please stop the myth that gasoline prices and fuel economy are closely correlated. We have nearly a decade of information that suggests the opposite. Decision theory has long ago proved that people are affected most by the proportion and rate of change in their utility, income, and consumer expenditures. Gasoline prices doubled in about 12 months during 2008, and the oil markets have been fairly volatile ever since. The volatility has created a new consumer culture, but that volatility pales in comparison to the incentives that were offered this Christmas.
        Spec
        • 2 Months Ago
        @mylexicon
        Hogwash. Both factors affect things. Do a though experiment. If gas prices shot up to $10/gallon, do you think the gas guzzlers would be as popular? Cmon, use some common sense for a change.
      EZEE
      • 2 Months Ago
      Stop complaining and be happy, you filthy hippies! This is good news, regardless of it being as high as you want or not, you have to start somewhere!
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