Average fuel economy dips, likely driven by rising pickups, SUVs, researchers say

After a record-breaking April for light-vehicle sales, the average fuel economy of those vehicles dipped slightly from March, a University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute report said.

The average window-sticker rating of cars, SUVs, vans and pickups purchased in April was 25.2 mpg, down 0.1 mpg from March.

“This decline likely reflects the increased market share of pickup trucks and SUVs,” researchers Michael Sivak and Brandon Schoettle wrote in an email.

U.S. SUV sales were up 5.1 percent from April 2015 to 110,520. Pickups did even better, rising 12 percent from April 2015 to 232,647.

April’s average fuel economy was the same one year ago.

Fuel economy was down from August 2014’s peak of 25.8 mpg but still up 5.1 mpg from October 2007, when the institute’s monitoring began.

The national average for a gallon of regular gasoline was $ 2.223 on Wednesday, down from $ 2.620 one year ago, according to AAA data.

A second study by the institute estimated the average monthly greenhouse gas emissions of each new-vehicle driver in the country. The University of Michigan Eco-Driving Index for February was 0.81, down 0.03 from January.

According to the report, that value indicates that the average new-vehicle driver produced 19 percent lower emissions in February 2016 than in October 2007.

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