Car buyer trends show fuel economy at 21-year low

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WASHINGTON – The average fuel economy of 2001 model year vehicles is 20.4 miles per gallon, a 21-year low, according to the newly released EPA “Fuel Economy Trends Report.”

The annual report has been tracking fuel economy averages since 1975.

According to the EPA, the lowest fuel economy since 1980 can be attributed to the increase in light trucks on America’s roads.

Light trucks – sport utility vehicles, vans, minivans and pickup trucks – are less fuel efficient. Model year 2001 sport utility vehicles average 17.2 mpg, pickup trucks 16.5 mpg, and vans and minivans 19.3 mpg, while model year 2001 cars average 24.2 mpg.

If manufacturers increased fuel economy as little as three miles per gallon, the report states, consumers would save as much as $25 billion a year in fuel costs, reduce 140 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions per year, and reduce the United States’ reliance on foreign oil by a million barrels of oil each day.

The “Fuel Economy Trends Report” is available at: http://www.epa.gov/otaq/fetrends.htm.

Another resource for consumers, the annual “Fuel Economy Guide” for new 2002 model year vehicles, will be released shortly by EPA and the Department of Energy. It provides real-world fuel economy estimates for new vehicles.

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