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April Fools! That dip in new-car fuel economy during the fourth month of this year was in fact an aberration. The University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI) calculated the weighted average of new-car fuel economy and determined that new car month-over-month fuel economy in May rose for the fourth time in five months. Better yet, May represented a monthly record high.

May's new cars got an average fuel-economy rating of 25.6 miles per gallon, up from 25.2 mpg in April and rising 3.2 percent from the 24.8 mpg figure a year earlier. The real impressive news is that the five-year fuel economy average rose 20 percent, so both Americans and the automakers appear to be doing their part in reducing fuel use by buying and making more alt-fuel vehicles and four-bangers.

This year, Americans appear to be scaling back on the fuel-use a bit as gas prices do their usual upward march heading into summer. Last month, US sales of hybrids, plug-ins and diesels were up 14 percent from a year earlier, as Toyota Prius sales rose 14 percent and the Nissan Leaf battery-electric set an all-time monthly record for sales, exceeding the 3,000-vehicle monthly threshold for the first time ever. Meantime, check out UMTRI's numbers here.
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