In order to determine buyer interest in fuel efficient vehicles, Ward's Auto runs a monthly fuel economy index report. The report details the fuel economy numbers of all new vehicles purchased in any given month. The typical trend during the past five years indicates that buyers have opted for more efficient vehicles, but this inclination is now waning as the economy slowly rebounds.
The reported fuel economy index for U.S. light-vehicle sales in April came in at 22.3 miles per gallon. Although this represents a 0.5 percent increase over April 2009 (22.2 mpg), it also is the lowest ever year-over-year improvement recorded by Ward's. The less-than-expected increase is attributed to a rise in sales of larger crossover vehicles, SUVs, vans and light trucks. This group of vehicles accounted for 49.6 percent of the market last month versus just 47.8 percent for April 2009.

So what do the numbers tell us? As the economy slowly recovers, many buyers are going back to larger, less efficient vehicles. If this trend continues, we may see a drop in the year-over-year efficiency numbers within the next few months, a phenomenon that's never been witnessed on the fuel economy index report issued by Ward's.

[Source: Ward's Auto – Sub. Req'd | Image: Phillyhillbilly52 - C.C. License 2.0]

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