Good news for consumers as fuel economy continues to soar
NEW YORK, April 13 — The average fuel economy of all cars and light trucks bought in the US hit an all-time high last month, a new report has shown.
For the first time ever, the average US fuel efficiency went over 24 mpg (9.8 l/100km) in March 2012, as drivers grappled with high fuel prices to select increasingly efficiency vehicles.
The figure has been steadily increasing over recent months, standing at 23.9 in February and 23.6 in January, according to a report from researchers at the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute.
The jump means that the average vehicle efficiency last month was a whopping 20 per cent higher than in 2007, just five years ago, a testament to the progress of American automakers and consumers when it comes to reducing gas usage.
Gas prices in the US, which are historically lower on average than much of the rest of the world, have topped US$4 (RM12) in recent weeks and are currently hovering around the US$3.92 a gallon mark.
That’s one of the driving forces behind the revolution currently occurring in the US automotive industry, with the transformation set to continue — major automakers have all signed up to nearly double average fuel efficiency to 4.31 l/100km by 2025.
Concerns of US consumers are mirrored in other countries around the world, where fuel economy has been improving at a similarly rapid rate, if not even faster.
In the UK for instance, fuel economy had risen by 29 per cent over the last ten years, yielding an average figure of 4.48 l/100km for a new vehicle late last year, an all time record.
Japan’s national standard last year stood at around 6.13l/100km, while Germany’s was around 5.85 l/100km — the better standards a reflection of higher fuel prices outside of the US, but also of cultural differences.
“Cities and rural lanes in Europe are often older than the car. Larger cars are inconvenient in these locations, so there has long been a preference for smaller cars in Europe,” explained a spokesperson for automotive analyst JATO Dynamics.
“The USA is a much ‘younger’ country, so cities have developed around the car and there is more distance to travel between cities in the US, which has encouraged the purchase of larger cruisers.”
Increased fuel economy is good for consumers and good for the environment, as it often goes hand-in-hand with decreased emissions, a trend which has been underway for several years now.
According to a report from JATO Dynamics last month, carbon dioxide emissions from new cars in Europe dropped to 136.1g/km in 2011, with nearly 30 per cent of new cars sold are classed as “low CO2” (101 g/km – 120 g/km).
This trend is being helped along by tough EU targets, resulting in super-clean cars such as the Ford Fiesta ECOnetic and the Peugeot 208 1.4 e-HDi, both of which offer an impressively low emissions rating of 87 g/km and help to ensure that in balance, automakers keep their fleet within emissions targets.
For European drivers, there has long been taxation on larger-engined vehicles, so the move to such efficient engines isn’t much of a stretch for consumers — but although manufacturers are under pressure in the US, the story for consumers is very different, says JATO.
“In the US there is little incentive on the customer to buy a slightly more efficient vehicle,” a spokesperson told Relaxnews.
“Tax regimes in most European markets drive consumers towards more efficient vehicles. US incentives for Electric Vehicles may help, but there is little incentive to choose the same model of car with an engine one size down, which many more buyers could do.” — AFP/Relaxnews