ANN ARBOR, MI – New research from the University of Michigan’s Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI) found that the average fuel economy of all new cars, light trucks, minivans, and SUVs sold in the U.S. is on the rise, having passed 24 mpg for the first time ever. 

UMTRI researchers Michael Sivak and Brandon Schoettle found that in March, 2012, the average fuel economy of vehicles sold in the U.S. in the categories mentioned previously reached 24.1, up from 23.9 in February, and 23.6 in January. This new average of 24.1 is 4 mpg higher (20%) than in October 2007, when these researchers first began tracking fuel economy of vehicles sold.

The researchers also updated their Eco Driving Index, which measures greenhouse gases emitted, on a per driver basis, of newly purchased vehicles. The index is down to 0.83, from 0.86, in December. This new number is down 17% overall since October 2007.

In addition, researchers tracked unadjusted CAFE standards, i.e. based on different EPA ratings rather than window sticker values. For March, unadjusted CAFE performance was 29.6 mpg, which is an increase of 20% (4.9 mpg) since October 2007.

March was 24.1 mpg, up from 23.9 in February and 23.6 in January, and now 20% (4 mpg) higher than October 2007, the first month of monitoring by these researchers.