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Fuel efficiency for US vehicles steadily improving

Average climbs to 24.9 gallons, study indicates

DETROIT — The average fuel economy of new vehicles sold in the United States hit a new high of 24.9 miles per gallon in August, according to a University of Michigan study released Tuesday.

The results indicate that automakers are producing more fuel-efficient models and consumers are continuing a trend of buying vehicles that use less gasoline. The industry is not only producing more hybrid and electric vehicles but also reducing the fuel consumption of traditional gas-guzzlers, like pickups and large SUVs.

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The study, prepared by the university’s Transportation Research Institute, said that the average fuel economy increased one-tenth of a gallon from the July results.

Fuel economy for new vehicles has been steadily rising since the monthly study began in October 2007, when the average was 20.1 miles per gallon.

“The 4.8 mpg improvement in the course of the past six years is significant both by itself and in comparison to the change in vehicle fuel economy over the past 90 years,” said Michael Sivak, director of the sustainable transportation program at the university.

Automakers are under pressure to further improve the fuel efficiency of new models to meet stringent new government standards enacted a year ago.

The Obama administration has set a target of raising the corporate average fuel economy to 35.5 miles per gallon by 2016 and 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025. The government estimates that the 54.5 miles per gallon standard will result in average fuel savings of $8,000 over the lifetime of a vehicle and dramatically reduce fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions.

The University of Michigan report said that such emissions for new vehicles have been reduced by 19 percent over the past six years.

Automakers are stepping up their development of greener cars, like hybrids that alternate between gasoline and battery power, plug-in hybrids that run primarily on batteries, and purely electric vehicles that use no gasoline.

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