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2011 Model Year Vehicles Average 22.4 MPG

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author photo by Nick Chambers October 2011

With government regulations now in effect to raise the average manufacturer fleet-wide passenger car fuel economy to 34.1 mpg by 2016, automakers are scrambling to introduce new technologies and vehicles to reach that goal. Even so, a new analysis by Ward's Auto suggests that may be difficult to reach.

When the rules were finalized last year, the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) said they expected average fuel economy to grow by 5-6 percent per year through 2016. According to Ward's, however, average fuel economy for model year 2011 vehicles rose a slight 1 percent over the prior year to 22.4 miles per gallon.

Ward's says the lackluster increase can largely be attributed to small car supply issues in the wake of the Japanese earthquake and tsunami earlier this year. Honda and Toyota, who have traditionally sold the most small cars in the U.S., led the decline in small car inventories with 67 percent and 64 percent drops, respectively. Overall small car inventories dropped more than 38 percent in the third quarter of 2011 versus a year ago.

The lack of small car supply led to a 3 percent decrease in small car sales versus last quarter. In general total car sales and inventories fell compared to last year, so it's hard to tease out how much of the small car decrease was due to decreasing market demand for cars and how much was due to a lack of supply.

It wasn't all bad news for small car sales, however, as American automakers capitalized on their competitors' supply issues. GM benefitted the most with the Chevy Cruze coming in as the top-selling small car for the last six months, although Ford and Chrysler also benefitted to lesser extents.

This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
2011 Model Year Vehicles Average 22.4 MPG - Autotrader