The average fuel economy of light vehicles sold in April was 25.3 mpg (9.3 L/100 km), down 0.2% from year-ago, resulting in the third monthly year-over-year decline in 2016.
The national average price per gallon of gasoline in April was $2.216, 7.0% higher than in March and 13.3% below same-month 2015. The price has been below $3 for 18 consecutive months, influencing new-vehicle shoppers to choose relatively less-efficient models.
Market share of hybrid models came in below prior-year and continued a 6-month streak below 2%. Diesels and electrics also declined from April 2015. New products helped plug-in hybrids surpass year-ago, up slightly from 0.26% to 0.35% share.
Light trucks accounted for 58.8% index-tracked vehicles, the highest share ever for April and the third-highest for any month, as all segments showed growth from last year.
Light trucks sold in the month averaged 21.9 mpg (10.8 L/100 km), 0.9% better than like-2015. CUVs ticked up to a record-high score of 24.3 mpg (9.7 L/100 km), boosted by higher sales of electrified powertrains and smaller models.
The index rating for cars came to 29.9 mpg (7.9 L/100 km), 1.3% above year-ago. Luxury cars, which are mostly responsible for the gain in plug-in hybrid sales, showed the most improvement, increasing 4.6% to 27.5 mpg (8.6 L/100 km).
Mazda hit a best-ever rating of 30.5 mpg (7.7 L/100 km) with a drop in its share of CUVs and an increase in small and midsize cars in April.
Volvo’s XC90 plug-in hybrid helped its score shoot up 11.2% to 23.6 mpg (10.0 L/100 km). Ford saw the sharpest decline from last year, falling 5.6% due to higher demand for its SUVs, pickups and vans.
For the first four months of 2016, the index average was 25.3 mpg (9.3 L/100 km), 0.3% below the same period in 2015. Although automakers continue to improve fuel economy in a wide variety of vehicles, declining consumer interest in small and alternatively powered vehicles likely will result in the first annual decline in the history of the index as 2016 closes.