Consumer Reports Looks at Future U.S. Auto Market, Promotes Fuel Efficiency Through Lighter Cars

New insight from Consumer Reports indicates that the change in mpg being looked at by the current U.S. government will have far-reaching effects on auto sales. An announcement last Thursday cites staffers at the company predicting that fuel economy will be a major factor in consumer decisions from 2011 on as the Obama administration ponders CAFE or Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards for 2016-2025. Current standards call for 35.5 mpg by 2016, with different levels of fuel economy being proposed for 2025. Current data indicates the average mpg for 2025 will be either 56 or 62.

Consumer Reports estimates that a move to the higher 62 mpg bracket for the quarter-century will save vehicle owners about $6,000 in costs of ownership overall, while cutting U.S. fuel use by over 30%. This kind of savings is at the heart of the plan to drive better fuel economy as the nation considers its current plight, reliance on foreign oil and overuse of a finite resource that is enduring price spikes due to various factors, including market speculation.

One thing that Consumer Reports is looking at right now is a simple factor in fuel use: the weight of the average vehicle. One assertion in Thursday’s report is that lighter vehicles will come into fashion. Consumer Reports cites the Hyundai Sonata, weighing in at just over 3200 pounds, and the Honda Civic at a diminutive 2800 pounds, as two top safety picks by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety or IIHS, that offer reduced fuel costs, efficiency and safety for the road ahead.

It may be that these smaller, leaner cars are going to start showing up on the American roadway in force. It’s yet to be seen whether Americans will embrace the tiniest cars, such as the Indian-made Tata Nano, which has been proposed, but not cleared, for the U.S. market, or future models resembling old classics like the Geo Tracker, a small-frame jeep, but it’s practically a sure bet that, as the government hikes mpg  standards and customers clamor for fuel savings, higher mpg cars are going to get a lot more popular. That makes one of today’s fuel-savers a good investment, whether it’s utilizing hybrid and electric technologies, diesel engines, flex fuel or any other kind of “green design.” Look at how to get the best deal on these cars at your local dealership before everybody starts wanting one.