US average fuel economy reaches all-time high

Sheila likes her new ride
Sheila approves of her new ride

New cars sold in the US had a record-high fleetwide fuel economy, up about 14 percent over the past four years, the Detroit Bureau reports, citing the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute. New US vehicles sold in 2012 averaged 23.8 miles per gallon, up six percent from the 22.5 mpg achieved in 2011…

In fact, GM says it was the first US automaker to sell more than one million vehicles in the US in one year with fuel economy of at least 30 mpg on the highway. There was a hiccup in the upward trend, though, since December’s new-vehicle MPG numbers fell slightly from November’s, likely a result of falling gas prices.

Either way, Americans are buying more advanced powertrain vehicles than ever. US sales of hybrids, plug-ins and diesels last year jumped 63 percent to 540,181 units. More impressively, plug-in vehicle sales almost tripled in 2012 to 49,962 units, and that’s not including low-volume cars like the Tesla Model S and Fisker Karma.

Americans are as dumb as a hoe handle. I know that’s not as accurate or politically-correct as “ignorant”. But, there was sufficient information readily available 50 years ago for three generations of my family to begin the switch to energy-efficient motor vehicles. And we did.

I won’t wander into the sociology of mass gullibility. The continued presence of most Republicans and the Tea Party in Congress is the best illustration. I do blame the American industry mis-leaders and their willing collaborators in both of the TweedleDeeDum parties for showing the way to backwardness while the rest of the world gazed and smirked.

Poisonally, I’m only waiting for this growth to extend far enough up the consumption scale to force efficiencies of scale onto the production of plug-in hybrids and electric cars – and we can then trade-in my wife’s shiny new car on something even more efficient. For now, we own what we best can afford to lay out on a purchase. And we’re very happy.

Now, does anyone in northern New Mexico want to buy a 30-year-old Volvo station wagon that still gets 24 mpg?

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