The EPA is reporting an increase in fuel economy for the fourth year in a row. The projected average mpg for 2008 will rise from 20.6 to 20.8 mpg.
But right now, that's just a projection based on numbers submitted by automakers based on their sales projections for the year. And as we all know, those projections were way off. So, expect the fuel economy numbers to be even higher than the current projection of 20.8, but the EPA won't be sure until the sales numbers are submitted at the end of the year.
Based on publicly available sales data, which are not part of the formal EPA database, it appears that higher gasoline prices have led to a 10 to 15 percent decrease in overall light-duty vehicle sales relative to automaker projections. Further, the sales data suggest that subcompact, compact, and midsize cars have been the only vehicle classes to have met or exceeded sales projections by automakers, while sales of midsize SUVs, large SUVs, and large pickup trucks are 15 to 25 percent lower than automaker projections. It also appears that 4-cylinder engines have gained market share from 6-cylinder and 8-cylinder engines. Accordingly, it is extremely likely that the projected fleetwide average MY2008 fuel economy value of 20.8 mpg is too low. EPA will provide a more accurate value for MY2008 in the 2009 report, based on formal end-of-year submissions to EPA by automakers.The new fuel economy trends report is available at: http://www.epa.gov/otaq/fetrends.htm
According to the report, we are in the midst of a fourth trend seen since they started recording the average back in 1975.
Since 1975, overall new light-duty vehicle fuel economy has moved through four phases:The projected percentage in hybrid sales is 2.5%. I wonder if that will be higher, given the general decrease in sales, while the sales of hybrids has remained fairly stable?
1. a rapid increase from 1975 through the early 1980s,
2. a slower increase until reaching its peak in 1987,
3. a gradual decline until 2004, and
4. an increase beginning in 2005.
The good news for consumers interested in increasing fuel economy trends is this is only the beginning of the upwards trend. Since the new CAFE rules are setting the mpg standard to over 31 mpg by 2015, we should see a huge uptick in the fuel economy graphs over the next few years.