Transportation: Cars: Average Miles per Gallon

The average miles per gallon for cars, trucks, and SUVs.
The average miles per gallon for cars, trucks, and SUVs.   

Related "Issue of the Day" Entries

Gas Mileage Wars Rage as EPA Considers State Limits
Published Wednesday, March 11th, 2009

Gas mileage wars are heating up between California and Detroit as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) held public hearings on the possibility of California imposing its own limits on Fuel-Economy Standards, which until now has been the work of the EPA. This move to reconsider California’s request comes as a campaign promise President Obama made to the state, in that he would ask the EPA to reverse the Bush-era rulings. California wishes to enact 43 miles per gallon on average by 2016, which is far higher than the 35 miles per gallon by 2020 target of the Energy Act of 2007. Thirteen other states have adopted California’s rule and several other states are considering its adoption. Car makers, even the foreign makers, argue that if granted, the new standard will require a totally new engine, which in this economy is unrealistic as cash for innovation and research is just not there.

According to the Department of Transportation, the average miles per gallon for passenger cars is 22.4 mpg and the SUVs, after remaining quite flat, have risen to an average of 18 mpg. The average annual mileage for the approximately 243.3 million cars, trucks and SUVs on the roads was actually steady, until 2006 when US drivers averaged 300 more miles driven in a year. According to the Department of Energy, the US dependance on foreign oil has cost us about $1.9 trillion from 2004 to 2008.

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Auto Industry Braces for Policy Changes
Published Tuesday, January 27th, 2009

In another move to swiftly change the direction of Washington, President Obama has called for tighter vehicle emission standards at the state level, which gained the immediate opposition from major business and auto industry groups. Also, he directed the Transportation Department to set interim targets for mileage standards starting in 2012 that make certain new vehicles reach the 35 mile-a-gallon level set by Congress for 2020.   Proponents of the policy also state that higher gas prices are needed to provide for better public transport and encourage consumers to buy the more efficient cars. All this effort, says President Obama, is “to reverse our dependence on foreign oil while building a new energy economy that will create millions of jobs.”

California has lead the way with a curb of 30% on emissions —nearly 42 mpg by 2020—which has been adopted by 14 other states. Maryland recently imposed a stricter emissions standards law that would eventually raise the average fuel efficiency of cars to 43 miles-per-gallon.  Currently, the average miles-per-gallon of vehicles on our nation’s highways is 26.7 for mid-sized cars and 16 for SUVs and pickups; overall a 21.4 mpg average. With new cars averaging a positive 1.4 mpg change in vehicle MPG a year since 1970, the auto industry may just meet Congress’ 35 mpg target in 2020 much less California and Maryland’s target.

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Alternative Fuel Vehicles Main Issue for Detroit
Published Monday, December 1st, 2008

After being turned down last month, today is the day that lawmakers hear the Big 3’s bailout proposal to congress that deals with the many issues confronting Congress and the Nation.  Some of those issues are the advancement of alternative fuel for the environment, high mileage vehicles to lessen our dependence on foreign oil, and engineering excellence to increase product endurance.  These issues are also the focus of the 2007 Energy Independence and Security Act which gave the Department of Energy the money and mandate to retool and refocus the auto industry to meet new standards such as 35 MPG, which would increase overall fuel efficiency by 40%.

Data regarding U.S. vehicle performance suggest that Americans are driving nearly 2000 miles more and the average consumption of gasoline has remained steady for the last 38 years.  This points to the higher Miles Per Gallon ratings for new cars and trucks.  yet, the Department of Energy’s data states that the average MPG has not risen as dramatically as we might think.  In 38 years, there has been a gradual 6-10 mile per gallon increase in MPG rating for all personnel vehicles, the average today is 26.7mpg.  To tackle the issues above, automakers have increased the percentage of alternative and high mileage vehicles made in the US from 2.9% in 1995 to 13.1% in 2006.

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Learn More

U.S. Department of Energy: Fuel Economy - http://www.fueleconomy.gov/
Only about 15% of the energy from the fuel you put in your tank gets used to move your car down the road or run useful accessories, such as air conditioning. The rest of the energy is lost to engine and driveline inefficiencies and idling. Therefore, the potential to improve fuel efficiency with advanced technologies is enormous.

Take Action

Fuel Economy: Gas Mileage Guide - http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/FEG2000.htm
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) produce the Fuel Economy Guide to help car buyers choose the most fuel-efficient vehicle that meets their needs.