WASHINGTON - According to a new report released earlier this week by the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute, higher gas prices have led to a resurgence in Americans buying more fuel-efficient vehicles, the Detroit News reports.
Accordingly, for the first time ever, average fuel economy (combined city/highway figures) of all new vehicles (cars, light trucks, minivans, and SUVs) sold in the United States was 24.1 mpg in March, up from 23.9 mpg in February and 23.6 mpg in January.
Automakers corroborate the findings, reporting an increase in sales of fuel-efficient vehicles. General Motors said last week its 12 vehicles getting 30 mpg or more on the highway had combined U.S. sales of 100,000 for March, the company€™s highest ever monthly total.
"Three years ago, about 16% of the vehicles GM sold achieved at least 30 mpg on the highway. Today, that number is about 40%," said GM North America President Mark Reuss.
Automakers recently signed off on a proposal to nearly double fuel standards to 54.5 mpg by 2025, a cost to the industry of $157.3 billion, but one that will save consumers $1.7 trillion at the pump, according to Obama administration estimates. Those figures are in addition to the 2012 to 2016 fuel efficiency increase to 34.1 mpg.