Washington Americans are snapping up model year 2001 cars and light trucks with an average fuel economy of 24.5 miles a gallon, continuing to buy vehicles with low gas mileage, the government says.
The finding, in a Transportation Department report released Friday, reflects a trend reported by the Environmental Protection Agency last year.
President Bush in his energy plan called for tax credits to spur the sale of hybrid gas-electric vehicles and fuel cells. Environmentalists say Bush should increase requirements for efficiency.
The 2001 estimate, based on March figures, is the same as in 1999 and less than the 24.7 miles a gallon in the 2000 model year. The 1999 figure was the lowest since 1980. The highest level was in 1987, 26.2 miles a gallon.
The drop in fuel economy mirrors a surge in sales of "light trucks," including vans, pickup trucks and sport utility vehicles. For model year 2001, cars are getting an average fuel economy of 28.7 miles a gallon but light trucks are getting only 20.9.