What a coincidence. As fuel prices are approaching all-time highs, so is vehicle fuel economy. From 2011 to 2012, industry-wide fuel economy went up a significant 16 percent, the biggest year-over-year gain since 1975, according to an Environmental Protection Agency report, says Bloomberg. The 2012 average fuel economy of 23.8 mpg was 1.4 mpg higher than the 2011 average, with Honda, Volkswagen and Mazda leading manufacturers. Hyundai and Kia were excluded from the top brands due to an ongoing agency investigation, but would likely have ranked among the most-efficient manufacturers as well.
The next significant step-up in standards is coming in 2016. According to the agency, 25 percent of vehicles sold are already in compliance with the 2016 fuel economy standards. Topping the charts with the highest fleet average fuel economy was Honda at 26.4 mpg, Volkswagen at 26.2 mpg, and Mazda at 25.9 mpg. Chrysler was near the bottom of the list with an average economy of 20.6 mpg, which is heavily reliant on sales of trucks and SUVs.
The noteworthy increase in 2012 fuel economy is partially attributed to the recovery of Japanese automakers from the 2011 earthquake and tsunami, whose production was slowed down by supplier delays stemming from the disaster.