Gasoline prices haven’t gone up high enough in the U.S. to have any real impact on car buyers choosing more fuel-efficient vehicles. A university study reports that fuel economy in new vehicle purchases is staying flat this year.
Average fuel economy (window-sticker value) of new vehicles sold in the U.S. was 25.3 mpg in September, according to University of Michigan’s Transportation Research Institute. It was unchanged from August and below the 25.5 mpg peak reached in August 2014.
Average fuel economy for September has gone up 5.2 mpg since October 2007, the first month of the monitoring in the study led by the University of Michigan’s Brandon Schoettle and Michael Sivak.
Gasoline and diesel prices have been affected by Hurricane Harvey and may see a similar trend coming from Hurricane Nate. Pump prices went up in late August and early September as Harvey impacted refineries, and caused a pipeline shut down along the East Coast. Related: The “Amazon Effect” Is Coming To Oil Markets
AAA reports that average gasoline prices in the U.S. have come in at $2.51 this week, up from $2.24 a year ago. A month ago, AAA reported average gasoline prices came in at $2.66 a month ago.
Diesel was reported to come in at $2.73 versus $2.37 a year ago.
Vehicle emissions have seen slight reductions this year, with automakers bringing more carbon reducing, efficient technologies to vehicles with internal combustion engines. The University of Michigan Eco-Driving Index (EDI), which estimates the average monthly emissions of greenhouse gases generated by an individual U.S. driver, improved to 0.81 in July 2017, which was down from 0.83 in June 2017.
Car buyers have been leaning toward pickup trucks and sport utility vehicles since the major oil price drop of 2014. Automakers have been making them more fuel efficient, and are giving owners a more comfortable, car-like interior driving experience.
Some auto analysts had expected to see a greater change in fuel economy and emissions figures by now. Electric vehicles are seeing steady growth in sales, hybrids continue to do well, and fuel efficiency has been getting better with each new model year. Related: Oil Giants At Odds As Saudi, Russian Ties Improve
While committing to building and launching several new EVs in the coming years, trucks, SUVs, and crossovers continue to stay very popular in the U.S. Automakers such as General Motors, Ford, and Volkswagen, have committed to rolling out new electric vehicles while also investing heavily in new trucks and SUVs.
Prices of a barrel of oil and a gallon of gasoline may stay relatively low in the U.S. for the next several months; and maybe even longer. Gasoline and diesel prices have adjusted to changing conditions and seem to be returning to lower prices.
Car and truck buyers can freely choose performance over fuel economy without much impact yet to their pocketbooks.
By Jon LeSage for Oilprice.com
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