Automakers could raise the average fuel efficiency of the U.S. new car fleet to 33 miles per gallon by 1995 using current technology and without sacrificing performance or comfort, congressional investigators said.

However, the congressional Office of Technology Assessment also said it appears unlikely the average fuel efficiency of cars will improve much above the current 28 mpg unless consumer and industry attitudes change.In testimony before a House panel, OTA officials said that, with gasoline prices remaining relatively low, American car-buyers favor high-performance and luxury cars that generally do not get good gasoline mileage.

As long as those consumer preferences continue, the officials said, automakers are not likely to take the risk of investing in more fuel efficient technologies - unless the government requires it.

The OTA testimony comes as Congress and the Bush administration consider whether the government should tighten its fuel economy requirements for passenger cars.