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Study: CAFE Numbers Lower Despite Consumers Desire for Better MPG

November 16, 2006

Consumers want better gas mileage even as manufacturers continue to reduce their overall fuel efficiency, according to the results of a Consumer Federation of America (CFA) survey report and a CFA analysis of car data gathered by the Department of Transportation. Conducted by Opinion Research Corporation in October, the survey collected responses from over 1,000 representative American adults with a margin of error of plus or minus three percentage points. Consumers, largely stated they wanted their vehicles to get better gas mileage. 53 percent said they wanted higher gas mileage. Of this group, another half (26 percent) – primarily young adults (51 percent) and those with incomes below $25,000 (36 percent) – said they wanted much greater miles per gallon. 33 percent said they wanted the same gas mileage, and 12 percent said they expected lower gas mileage due to trading up to a larger size vehicle.Furthermore, CFA analyzed the CAFÉ (corporate average fuel economy) ratings of each manufacturer from 1996 to 2005 using manufacturer reported CAFE averages. Of the 13 major manufacturers, nine had lower CAFE averages in 2005 than they did in 1996, three increased and one remained the same. The greatest improvement was seen in Toyota, whose CAFE mpg increased 1.5 miles per gallon.To come to a fuller understanding of each individual manufacturer’s overall fleet fuel efficiency, CFA compared the changes in a manufacturer’s fleet mix from 1996 to 2005. 16 of the 40 most popular models showed worse fuel economy in 2005 than 1996, one showed no improvement, 10 had minimal improvement of less than one mpg and 11 showed improvement of one mpg or more.
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