Americans’ cars are getting less fuel efficient, believe it or not

May 4, 2015, 6:03 PM UTC
Automobiles are on display at a Toyota car sales and show room in St. Petersburg
Automobiles are on display at a Toyota car sales and show room in St. Petersburg, September 18, 2013. Toyota Motor Corp will invest around 18 billion yen ($181 million) to expand capacity at its St. Petersburg plant in Russia where it will start assembling its popular RAV4 SUV in 2016, the Japanese carmaker said on Wednesday. While car sales have been declining for six consecutive months in Europe's second biggest market due to an economic slowdown, Toyota has seen sales of the RAV4 rise by 43 percent to 27,000 vehicles in the eight months to August. REUTERS/Alexander Demianchuk (RUSSIA - Tags: BUSINESS TRANSPORT) - RTX13PWO
Photograph by Alexander Demianchuk — Reuters

Even in an age when sustainability is on many people’s minds, The average miles-per-gallon for cars sold in the US actually dropped last month, according to the University of Michigan’s Transportation Research Institute.

Average fuel economy for cars sold in April was 25.2 mpg, down .2 mpg from March and down .6 mpg from the high point reached in August of 2014. It is up 5.1 mpg from October 2007, when the institute started monitoring these statistics.

The big reason that fuel economy is down? More people are opting for pickup trucks and SUVs. A variety of factors including cheaper gas and more improved aesthetics are helping to lift sales of gas guzzlers.

Total emissions of greenhouse gases are also down overall, according to the report. The University of Michigan Eco-Driving Index, which measures monthly emissions for an individual US driver, was at .82 in February, the same as it was in January. That correlates to an 18% drop in emissions since October 2007.

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