New car average fuel economy sets record

2013-Ford-FusionNew cars are more fuel-efficient than in any period of recorded history but, according to a new study, the auto industry has made its biggest stride during the last five years. According to the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI), the average fuel economy of cars sold in the United States in March 2012 was 24.1 mpg, a historical high. It was also higher than the 20.1 mpg registered in October 2007, when the study began.

UMTRI calculated average fuel economy by measuring the monthly sales of each vehicle, and comparing those sales to the fuel economy figures listed in the EPA Fuel Economy Guide (these are the same numbers that appear on window stickers). If a car had multiple ratings, an average was taken. Low-volume manufacturers, like Ferrari and Rolls-Royce, had an average taken of all of their models.

If more fuel-efficient cars were sold in a given month, the average was higher, and vice versa. There were a few monthly dips in UMTRI’s graph, but the overall trend was for an increase in fuel economy. The yearly averages have steadily increased: 2008 (the first year with complete data) registered an average 20.8 mpg, while American cars are averaging 23.4 mpg so far this year. Apparently, not only are car companies building more fuel-efficient cars, but people are buying them in large numbers.

The University of Michigan’s findings echo a recent EPA study that measured fuel economy, and other factors, from 1975 to 2011. That study also claimed that fuel economy is at an all time high. The EPA’s fuel economy average for 2011 was 22.8 mpg, compared to 22.5 for the UMTRI study. The increase in average fuel economy was probably helped by the proliferation of greener cars over the past few years.

Not everyone buys a hybrid; consumers now have more choices when it comes to fuel efficient transport. Normal cars are now much thriftier, thanks to technologies like turbocharging and direct injection. Several companies say their compact cars will get 40 mpg, and luxury brands are now offering hybrids and diesels.

If the United States hopes to solve its carbon emissions problem, producing greener cars is the first step. However, people have to want to buy those cars. This study would not have looked so encouraging if it was done during the early 2000s, at the height of the SUV boom. Some people may have been forced to trade their Jeep Commander for a Fiat 500 because of high gas prices, but the cars of 2012 are also much more attractive. A few years ago, average consumers had the choice of spacious, rugged looking SUVs, boring sedans, or small, lozenge-shaped hybrids. Today, there are plenty of practical choices that are also stylish and fuel-efficient. The upcoming 2013 Ford Fusion is a case in point: it’s a midsize sedan that actually looks interesting, and boasts a range of economic gasoline, hybrid, and electric powertrains. The future looks green.

Product Review

By adding features, tech, and all-wheel drive, Mazda puts the 3 in a class of one

Since its introduction in 2003, Mazda’s compact Mazda3 has been a mainstay of the brand’s driver-oriented strategy. Mazda now plans to move upmarket, and the all-new 2019 Mazda3 offers some clues about how that’s going to work.

Ford’s born-again Bronco off-roader will soothe your 1990s nostalgia

Ford confirmed it will bring the Bronco back to American showrooms in 2020. We haven't seen the truck yet, but dealers who got a preview of it during a private event say it's a true off-roader aimed directly at the Jeep Wrangler.
Product Review

2019 Volkswagen Jetta offers German refinement and tech at an affordable price

With enough tech to make villains jealous, the Volkswagen Jetta punches above its class as a forward-thinking sedan. Spacious, comfortable, and efficient, the Jetta is a refined offering. German refinement comes with a serious attitude.
Product Review

Who needs a Range Rover? BMW’s X7 has better tech and just as much luxury

The 2019 BMW X7 is the German automaker’s long-overdue entry into the full-size luxury SUV segment. Packing three rows of seats and plenty of tech, can the new BMW take on Mercedes-Benz and Land Rover?

Protect yourself and your ride with our favorite dash cams

Dashboard cameras can assist drivers in car accident claims, settle speeding ticket disputes, and even catch glimpses of incoming meteors, among other things. Here, we've compiled a list of the most noteworthy offerings available.

Tesla revives its referral program with chances to win a Roadster

Tesla has revived its referral program that ended in February because of cost pressures. This time around the perks aren't quite as diverse, though it does offer regular chances to win a Roadster or Model Y.

From cars to computers: How data is transforming F1 racing

After a single weekend of racing, a Formula 1 pit crew typically pulls around 2TB of data from the car. Everything, from tire pressure to the temperature of the track, is recorded and analyzed in the name of boosting performance -- and not…

Tesla ends scheduled servicing because electric cars need less maintenance

Tesla will longer offer scheduled maintenance plans, switching to an "as needed" model. This reflects the fact that electric cars need less regular maintenance than gasoline or diesel cars.

The go kart-like Mini Cooper will soon add zero emissions to its resume

Mini is in the final stages of developing an electric version of the Cooper. The 2020 Cooper SE will receive powertrain components from the BMW i3, including a 181-horsepower electric motor and battery technology.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Robotic companions and computer-aided karaoke

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it's fun to gawk!

Tesla Model 3 vulnerability exposed at Pwn2Own; hackers take home the car

A Tesla Model 3 vulnerability was exposed at the Pwn2Own hacking competition. The hackers, who were able to display a message on the electric vehicle's internet browser, won $35,000 and took home the car.

Is this electric car startup the next Tesla, or will it go the way of Coda?

The electric car startup formerly known as EVelozcity has changed its name to Canoo. It also announced a lineup of four cars including a commuter-friendly model and a lifestyle-oriented car. Its first electric vehicles will begin to appear…

Recall bounty hunters needed as millions ignore deadly Takata airbag recall

It's the recall campaign from hell and too many people aren't responding. Toyota Motor North America (TMNA) and Carma Project want to give financial rewards to people who alert family and friends to the deadly Takata airbag recall.

Keep your driving record squeaky clean with these top-flight radar detectors

Nobody likes getting a speeding ticket, but these gadgets can help. Check out our picks for the best radar detectors on the market, from the likes of Valentine One, Escort, and Beltronics.