This is an excerpt from EERE Network News, a weekly electronic newsletter.

May 14, 2003

EPA: Light-Vehicle Fuel Economy Increases Slightly in 2003

The average fuel economy of light vehicles sold in the United States increased slightly in 2003, reaching 20.8 miles per gallon (mpg), according to preliminary figures released by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Last year, light-vehicle fuel economy hit a 22-year low of 20.4 mpg. Light vehicles include cars and light trucks: vans, pickup trucks, and sport utility vehicles.

Fuel-efficiency improvements caused the fuel economy of new vehicles to peak at 22.1 mpg in 1988. Since then, the increasing market share of light trucks-now comprising 48 percent of light-vehicle sales-has caused average fuel economies to generally decline. On the plus side, though, automakers have achieved higher vehicle weights with greater power while holding fuel efficiencies roughly constant. The EPA report, posted on May 2nd, is based on projected sales and will be revised with final sales numbers, but the average fuel economy is not expected to change by more than 0.5 mpg. See the EPA Light-Duty Automotive Technology and Fuel Trends Report.