New-Vehicle Fuel Economy More Than Doubles Since 1970s

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- New-vehicle fuel economy has more than doubled since the 1970s and is projected to increase by more than 50 percent by 2040, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration's (EIA) Annual Energy Outlook.

Looking at the most recent five years, adjusted estimates reveal that light-duty vehicle fuel economy increased by approximately 5 miles per gallon (mpg) to 25 mpg from 2008 to 2013. Adjusted estimates are intended to reflect actual driving conditions, such as high speeds, aggressive accelerations and decelerations, air conditioner use, cold weather and varying road conditions.

The 25 mpg is more than double what the EIA first recorded in 1973 and 1974, following the Arab oil embargo.

Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards, which promote the use of alternative fuels in vehicles, is likely one reason for the improved miles per gallons in vehicles. Flex-fuel vehicles are the largest classification of alternative fuel vehicles, according to the EIA. These vehicles, which can accept E85 -- a blend of 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline -- account for one-seventh of 2010 model year light-duty vehicles.

"Gas guzzler" taxes, which penalize automobile manufacturers purported to produce poor fuel economy vehicles, is another likely cause. Light-duty vehicles are defined as those with a gross weight of 8,500 pounds or less.

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