US fuel economy reaches all-time high

The average fuel economy of new vehicles sold in the U.S. hit a record high last year, rising 0.5 miles per gallon over 2012, federal officials announced on Wednesday.

The Environmental Protection Agency said on Tuesday that model year 2013 vehicles averaged 24.1 mpg, nearly 5 mpg higher than 2004 levels.

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The vehicles tracked include new cars and SUVs sold in the U.S.

“Today’s announcement points to the greatness of American ingenuity and the strength of our auto industry," said EPA chief Gina McCarthyGina McCarthyLiberal group files lobbying complaint against Pruitt Trump’s budget prioritizes polluters over people Trump pulls US out of Paris deal: What it would mean MORE.

"Our report shows that today’s vehicles are saving Americans money at the pump while emitting fewer greenhouse gasses. We are thrilled to see that manufacturers continue to innovate and are bringing technologies to improve fuel economy online even faster than anticipated," McCarthy added.

The EPA credited the gains to President Obama's climate agenda. The president wants the U.S. to cut greenhouse gases and double fuel economy by 2025.

The report also noted a drop in carbon dioxide emissions from 2013 vehicles, reaching a record low of 369 grams per mile of emissions.

Automaker Mazda achieved the highest fuel economy and lowest greenhouse gas emissions last year, the EPA said.

The increasing fuel economy is a result of fast adoption of turbochargers, advanced transmissions and other efficient technologies according to the report.

Nissan was credited with the greatest improvement in fuel efficiency and emissions out of the automakers, and SUVs had the greatest improvement in all classes of new personal vehicles.

Despite the improvements, early projections for 2014 levels reveal a possible slow-down in fuel economy, predicting a 24.2 mpg. That's a slight improvement over last year.

Still, the EPA said estimates are early and next year's report will provide the full picture.

When asked if the administration was concerned about a slowing rate of increase, McCarthy told reporters she is not "discouraged."

"There are some anomalies," McCarthy said when looking at early 2014 numbers. "2013 indicates we are well on our way like we hoped."

McCarthy added that trucks are making major headway, and in 2014 and 2015 trucks will "get in the game more than before while keeping up performance."

While efficiency of vehicles has improved, EPA said, horsepower in 2014 will be at an all-time high and so will the average weight of vehicles.