July sees big jump in fuel efficiency of new cars

WASHINGTON – A study by the University of Michigan finds that the fuel economy of new cars and light trucks sold in July noticeably jumped, thanks to the "cash for clunkers" program.

The average mileage for new vehicles went from 21.4 miles per gallon in June to 22.1 in July. That's best one-month mileage improvement university researchers have seen since the Environmental Protection Agency reconfigured mileage estimates in
October 2007.

Study co-author Michael Sivak said the increase was especially impressive because it happened at a time when gas prices were falling and unemployment levels shrank somewhat. Normally, those factors would lead to more gas guzzlers.