Car efficiency falls slightly in 2015

The average fuel efficiency of new cars dropped slightly in 2015 as sales of larger vehicles increased.

The University of Michigan’s Transportation Research Institute announced Thursday that the average vehicle sold in the United States got 25.3 miles per gallon last year, 0.1 miles per gallon below the previous year.

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The drop coincided with historically low gasoline prices that have caused consumers to be less conscious about buying fuel-efficient cars and driven more sales of big vehicles.

It bucked a years-long trend of increasing vehicle fuel economy, caused by increasing gasoline prices and strengthening federal regulations for efficiency.

The average also fell in December to 24.9 miles per gallon, 0.2 miles per gallon below November.

“This decline likely reflects the continuing drop in the price of gasoline in December, and the consequent increased sales of pickup trucks, SUVs, and crossovers,” Michael Sivak, director for sustainable transportation at the institute, said in its monthly update to its figures.

The university’s calculations are based on the stated efficiency of vehicles, weighted by the number of vehicles sold in a given time period.

Regulations from the Obama administration will require that new cars obtain, on average, 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025.