Average fuel economy sneaks up 0.3 mpg in May

May Marked Highest Figure Since Record High Last August

Go figure. That's all there is to say after Americans simultaneously cut back on their purchases of hybrids and plug-ins while boosting average new-car fuel economy to its highest level since last August, according to the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute's (UMTRI) Michael Sivak. Ah, the power of averages.

In May, the average fuel economy of new vehicles sold in the US went up by 0.3 miles per gallon to 25.5 mpg, the country's highest figure since its record 25.8 mpg for new-car purchases last August. Heck, May was the fourth-best month ever when it came to measuring new-vehicle fuel efficiency.

While the increase may reflect a finer appreciation for smaller-engined gas-powered vehicles and/or a gradual move away from SUVs and gas-guzzlers, it sure doesn't jibe at first blush with May's green-car vehicle sales. Last month, Americans reduced their green-car purchases by 19 percent from a year earlier to about 53,000 vehicles as folks cut back on models such as the four Toyota Prius variants and the Ford C-Max Hybrid. And plug-in vehicle purchases weren't immune either, declining 18 percent from a year earlier to about 10,000 vehicles, largely because of the 33-percent year-over-year decline for the Nissan Leaf battery-electric vehicle.

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