Reversing a long-term trend of slightly declining fuel economy, EPA is reporting an increase in fuel efficiency for 2006 and 2007, an average of 20.2 miles per gallon for cars and light duty trucks. For the first time, real-world fuel economy values are based on the new, more realistic EPA test methods that have taken effect for model year 2008 vehicles.
EPA’s annual report, “Light-Duty Automotive Technology and Fuel Economy Trends: 1975 through 2007,” provides data on the fuel economy and technology characteristics of new light-duty vehicles (cars, minivans, sport utility vehicles, and pickup trucks). The report projects average real-world fuel economy for model year 2007 to be 20.2 mpg, the same as 2006.
This report confirms that average fuel economy improved in both 2005 and 2006, the first consecutive annual increases since the mid-1980s. The 20.2 mpg value for 2006 and 2007 is 0.9 mpg higher than in 2004, reversing a long term trend of slightly declining fuel economy since its 1987 peak. Most of the increase in overall fuel economy since 2004 has been due to higher light truck fuel economy. Fuel economy standards have risen each year since 2005 for light trucks. Another reason is slightly lower light truck market share, which peaked in 2004 at 52 percent and is projected to be 49 percent in 2007.
For recent model years, the improved method yields industry-wide combined city/highway fuel economy estimates that are about six percent lower than past estimates. Accordingly, year-to-year comparisons only should be made between data listed in today’s report.