Some people think cars are getting funny-looking. Others think they're getting too small. Could be, but they're also getting a lot more efficient.
In fact, the University of Michigan reports that the average fuel-economy (window-sticker) value of new vehicles sold in the U.S. in February was 24.5 miles per gallon -- tying the record high reached in January and up 4.4 mpg from the value in October 2007, the first month to be monitored.
Using this and other data, the university puts together something it calls the Eco-Driving Index (EDI) -- an index that estimates the average monthly emissions of greenhouse gases generated by an individual U.S. driver.
The EDI stood at 0.80 in December, an improvement of 20% since October 2007. The EDI takes into account both the fuel used per distance driven and the amount of driving.
The average sales-weighted fuel economy was calculated from the monthly sales of individual models of light-duty vehicles (cars, SUVs, vans, and pickup trucks) and the combined city/highway fuel-economy ratings published in the EPA Fuel Economy Guide (i.e., window sticker ratings) for the respective models.
For both monthly and model year averages, sales-weighted arithmetic means were calculated. The bars in the graph show the average for each model year.