The only thing we can all count on is death, taxes, and a US fleetwide light-duty fuel economy average of 25.1 miles per gallon. The University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute's (UMTRI) Michael Sivak and Brandon Schoettle continue to faithfully calculate fuel-efficiency averages for new cars, and those averages continue not to budge. In fact, December marked a slight drop in fleetwide fuel economy to 24.9 mpg from an even 25 mpg in November.

Overall, fuel economy has been stuck at 25.1 mpg since the 2014 model year, which followed years of steadily increasing US fuel economy. The good news is that more Americans are buying plug-in vehicles — last year's domestic sales of electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids surged about 27 percent from a year earlier to about 130,000 units, namely on higher sales by Tesla Motors and a jump in demand for Ford's plug-in hybrids.

Still, those pickup trucks remain popular stateside. For instance, last year, Ford boosted sales of its F-Series trucks by 5.2 percent to almost 821,000 units. In fact, the Blue Oval sold almost three times as many trucks and SUVs as it did cars in 2016.

The news may be all the more distressing for green-car enthusiasts because the plateau indicates that the country isn't getting any closer to reaching the 54.5 mpg Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) average (or 40 mpg "real world" figure) that the feds have set as a goal for 2025.

Still, while emissions levels have also plateaued, they remain about 17 percent less than in fall 2007, when UMTRI began tracking such figures. So we have that going for us.

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