Americans are using a record-breaking amount of gasoline

gas consumption chartMore miles driven, but powered by more fuel-efficient engines.U.S. Energy Information Administration

US drivers consumed a record 9.6 million barrels of gasoline per day in July of 2007.

That record stood for almost a decade, but in June 2016, it finally fell: Americans burned 9.7 million gallons per day in June, according to the US Energy Information Administration, part of the Department of Energy.

You might be thinking that’s terrible news — Americans are returning to their gas-guzzling ways amid a boom in SUV sales! But EIA also reported that although “[v]ehicle miles traveled (VMT) were also high in summer 2016, setting a new record in June,” a summer-2015-to-summer-2016 increase to 9.3 billion miles per day represented a 3% hike.

Compared with 2007, however, in 2016 “VMT increased more than 6.4%” while gasoline consumption only increased 0.5%, the EIA said.

The conclusion is that although Americans consumed more gas in one month during the summer than ever before, fuel-economy has increased considerably since 2007, offsetting the increase.

The auto industry doesn’t get enough credit for how must better it has gotten and building higher-MPG gas engines over the past decade, without sacrificing performance.

But the achievement is now showing up in the data.

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