The continuing saga of the Cash for Clunkers plan has gotten more interesting as new reports emerge that suggest that the program has actually increased the average gas mileage of all new cars sold during that period to a record 23 MPG. That’s an 8% increase from 21.2 MPG in August 2008 and the best numbers recorded since gas hit $4/gallon back in the dark days of 2007. So should we celebrate or sagely shake our heads? More after the jump.
Interpreting the data runs into that old causative/correlative situation, meaning that at it’s difficult to attribute the increased new car mileage directly to Clunkers. Still, it would be tough to argue that the program didn’t have at least some impact on those numbers. Lots of commentators are suggesting that news like this, coupled with news that truck sales are off so significantly they may not recover, points to the American consumer finally and permanently altering their car buying habits and gravitating towards more fuel-efficient options. But who knows? Maybe gas will sink back down to 99 cents a gallon and GMC will crank out 46-passenger wheeled aircraft carriers as fast as they can. But I digress … whatever the actual reason, whenever average vehicle mileage goes up it’s a good thing in my book.