Gas prices fuel small-car sales in August, but mid-sizes sell strong in 1st half

Sep 13, 2012

Fuel economy numbers from August light-vehicle auto sales provided by Truecar.com indicate that the average fuel economy for new cars sold increased to 23.3 mpg in August after four months of decline.

August’s TrueMPG of 23.3 mpg was compared to 21.7 mpg in Aug.  11, and increased from July 2012’s number of 23.1 mpg.

Truecar.com, an online automotive information and communications platform, provided numbers comparing overall truck and car mpg from seven manufacturers including the Detroit Three, Honda, Hyundai, Nissan, Toyota and Volkswagen.

“Relatively higher gas prices and attractive incentives helped improve the market share of small cars and small SUVs, resulting in an improved overall TrueMPG for the industry,” said Jesse Toprak, vice president of marketing intelligence at TrueCar.com. “Hyundai wins the most improved medal in August in comparison to a year ago with Ford also posting significant gains especially due to higher EcoBoost engine.”

Although the improved average fuel economy may indicate a healthier light-vehicle market, Experian Automotive announced that, overall, midrange cars proved the highest-selling vehicle segment throughout the first half of 2012.

According to Experian’s latest vehicle registration analysis, the Toyota Camry topped the list, with the Ford F-150 pickup coming in second.

The escalation in sales could be related to lower interest and more attractive dealer incentives. Higher gas prices and new-model redesigns also might be encouraging consumers to purchase small to midrange cars instead of larger vehicles.

The complete top 10 best-selling vehicles for the first half of 2012 include: Toyota Camry, Ford F-150, Honda Civic, Nissan Altima, Honda Accord, Toyota Corolla, Honda CR-V, Chevrolet Silverado 1500, Ford Fusion and Chevrolet Malibu.

Jeffrey Anderson, director of consulting and analytics for Experian Automotive, reported an 11.9% increase in vehicle registration during the first half of 2012 compared to the previous year.