Consumer group: Drivers buying more fuel efficient cars

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The average miles-per-gallon of new cars that are purchased in the United States has increased from 21 miles-per-gallon in 2008 to 25.6 miles-per-gallon this year, according to a study released Monday by the Consumer Federation of America (CFA).

The result of the change is that U.S. drivers who own 2014 model cars will spend about $300 less per year on gasoline than owners of cars that were made in 2008, the study found.

The CFA said the trend toward higher gas mileage was likely to continue to likely to continue to grow as new fuel economy standards that are being implemented by the Obama administration are put in place in coming years.

"According to a recent survey by ORC International of more than 1000 representative adult Americans, drivers expect a median of 30 mpg in their next vehicle purchase," the group said in a news release.

"At current gas prices ($3.56), the increase of over four mpg (25.6 mpg to 30 mpg) would save the typical driver more than $300 in the first year and thousands over the lifetime of the vehicle, compared to new vehicles purchased in 2014 (if the consumer drives 15,000 miles annually)," the statement continued.

CFA Research Director Mark Cooper said the findings of his organization's study make sense given the economic conditions in much of the country.

"Consumers want and expect the vehicles they intend to purchase to get significantly higher fuel economy,” Cooper said. “Many Americans struggle to live within their budgets, and a large majority are troubled about future gasoline prices,” he added.  In the ORC survey, 80 percent of those surveyed said that 'in thinking about the next five years, they were 'concerned about gasoline prices with 64 percent indicating 'great' concern."

The Obama administration's Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards will require automakers to achieve an average of 54.5 miles-per-gallon in their car fleets by 2025. The standard will gradually increase from 36.5 miles-per-gallon starting in 2017.

CFA Director of Public Affairs Jack Gillis said Monday that "car manufacturers are well on their way to meet the 2025 fuel economy standards.

"Because the new federal standards are in line with consumer demand, carmakers understand that meeting those standards is one of the best ways to ensure market success in the future," he said.