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EPA: Honda, Toyota Lead In Fuel Efficiency

Thu, 09/27/2007 - 7:22am
Ken Thomas, Associated Press Writer
WASHINGTON (AP) — Honda and Toyota offered U.S. car owners the highest average fuel efficiency of the 2007 model year vehicles, the government reported Wednesday.
 
The average fuel economy for 2007 vehicles was 20.2 miles per gallon (8.6 kilometers per liter), the same as 2006 vehicles, the Environmental Protection Agency said in an annual report that used new testing procedures.
 
For individual vehicles, the test results are included on window stickers in dealer lots. The agency said the overall results marked an increase compared with 2004 vehicles, which averaged 19.3 mpg (8.2 km/liter).
 
Honda Motor Co. had the highest fuel economy of any manufacturer with 22.9 mpg (9.7 km/liter), a slight decrease compared with its 2006 lineup.
 
Toyota Motor Corp. posted a 22.8 mpg (also 9.7 km/liter) average for its 2007 vehicles compared with 22.4 mpg (9.5 km/liter) the previous year. Toyota's average was helped by the gas-electric Prius hybrid, which had the highest combined fuel economy of any passenger car with 46.2 mpg (19.6 km/liter).
 
South Korea's Hyundai Motor Co., which includes Kia vehicles, improved to 22.7 mpg (22.7 km/liter) for 2007 vehicles, followed by Volkswagen AG with 21.4 mpg (9.1 km/liter). Nissan Motor Co. showed the largest gain of any automaker during the past year, improving 0.6 mpg (0.3 km/liter) to 20.6 mpg (8.8 km/liter).
 
General Motors Corp. led U.S. automakers with 19.4 mpg (8.2 km/liter), followed by Ford Motor Co. with 18.7 mpg (8.0 km/liter). For the third straight year, Ford's Escape hybrid had the highest fuel efficiency of any light truck with 29.7 mpg (12.6 km/liter).
 
DaimlerChrysler AG, which recently completed the sale of a controlling stake in Chrysler to private equity firm Cerberus Capital Management, was the lowest rated with 18.3 mpg (7.8 km/liter), which has not changed in the past three years.
 
The figures were calculated for the first time based on test methods devised to reflect driving habits better and provide a more realistic estimate. The new tests led to a 6 percent decrease in fuel economy averages compared to past estimates using old testing criteria, EPA said.
 
Among vehicle types, passenger cars averaged 23.4 mpg (9.9 km/liter) in 2007, unchanged from 2006. SUVs averaged 18.1 mpg (7.7 km/liter), an increase of 0.3 mpg (0.1 km/liter), and pickups were unchanged at 16.2 mpg (6.9 km/liter).
 
EPA Administrator Stephen L. Johnson said the findings were evidence that ''automakers are answering President Bush's call to improve fuel economy and decrease our nation's dependency on foreign oil.''
 
The figures underscored complaints in Congress, however, that the auto industry has failed to increase rapidly production of vehicles that can get more miles on a gallon of gasoline. The Senate approved legislation in June that would require automakers to build more efficient vehicles; the measure is pending in Congress.
 
With more consumers driving larger vehicles than a generation ago, overall fuel efficiency has made little progress. The current fleet is less efficient than the new vehicles produced in 1981, for example, and well below the peak of 22 mpg (9.4 km per liter) in 1987.
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