New cars and trucks are getting better fuel economy and saving consumers money at the pump. Recent reports are showing an on-going upward trend, one which is expected to accelerate as new standards ramp up.

According to researcher Michael Sivak and his colleagues at the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute, U.S. automobile sales in February hit their highest mark—23.7 mpg—since they started collecting in October 2007.

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Source: University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute, http://www.umich.edu/~umtriswt/EDI_sales-weighted-mpg.html.

The overall trend has been upward, which is not surprising. According to data from EPA and DOE’s www.fueleconomy.gov, the number of model variants with a combined city/highway label rating of over 30 miles per gallon has doubled from model years 2010 to 2012.

The federal government’s official assessment of fleetwide performance, EPA’s Fuel Economy Trends report, was released today and also shows on-going progress in fleet fuel economy. EPA’s data stops with model year 2011 and therefore doesn’t capture the most recent trends, but it still finds fuel economy at the highest levels since data was first collected for model year 1975.

Looking ahead, we can expect more fuel economy improvements due to rising standards. New fuel economy and carbon pollution standards established by the Obama Administration start ratcheting up with model year 2012 cars and trucks, which are reaching showrooms now. Proposed standards for model years 2017 to 2025 will result in a new auto fleet with nearly double the fuel economy and half the fuel consumption as the average vehicle on the road today.

By following strong standards we’ll have autos that sip instead of guzzle gas. That’s good for consumers, good for the environment and good for our energy security.