Go figure. That's what we're saying after fleetwide fuel economy of new cars purchased in January rose during a month when green-car sales fell yet again.
January's new cars got an average fuel economy of 24.9 miles per gallon, which was up from 24.8 mpg in December and approached the all-time high of an even 25 mpg in both October and November, according to the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI). January's fuel-economy figure was also 1.2 percent ahead of the 24.6-mpg figure achieved in January 2013 and was a smidgen more than the 2013 total of 24.7 miles per gallon.
Granted, 0.1 miles per gallon doesn't sound like much of a jump, especially considering that the previous two January-to-January jumps were at least a full mile per gallon. Still, it's impressive given that January's US sales of hybrids, plug-ins and other advanced-powertrain vehicles fell almost 14 percent from a year earlier. The primary culprit of that decline was the Toyota Prius, whose four variants' sales were down 23 percent from January 2013. The implication here is that Americans may have been buying fewer gas guzzlers and more four-bangers. You can check out UMTRI's report here.