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Vehicle fuel economy down in wintry February

March 5, 2015

Gas mileage of new vehicles sold in the U.S. slipped last month thanks in part to this year's harsh winter, according to UMTRI researchers.

The decrease in fuel economy likely reflects the increased market share of light trucks, SUVs and crossovers in response to the inclement winter weather in a large part of the country," said research professor Michael Sivak.

Average fuel economy (window-sticker values) of cars, light trucks, vans and SUVs purchased in February was 25.2 mpg, down from 25.4 mpg in January and now just 0.1 mpg higher than a year ago. Overall, vehicle fuel economy is up 5.1 mpg from October 2007, the first full month of monitoring by Sivak and colleague Brandon Schoettle.

In addition to average fuel economy, Sivak and Schoettle normally issue a monthly update of their national Eco-Driving Index, which estimates the average monthly emissions generated by an individual U.S. driver. The EDI takes into account both the fuel used per distance driven and the amount of driving—the latter relying on data that are published with a two-month lag.

The EDI monthly update is not yet available due to a delay in the release of the underlying vehicle distance data.