Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Wednesday, May 10, 2021

With prices at the pump high and bound to get higher, it’s hard for drivers to see a bright side to the gasoline blues. Unless you consider a different measure for fuel costs, and how past rises in that have spurred innovation:

But the cost of gas itself is only part of the story. The other part is how far that gas will take you. If you think about it, you care about how much you pay to drive 100 miles, not how much you pay for a gallon of clear, pungent fluid.

In the 1960’s, when people were buying Country Squires and El Caminos, vehicles were getting just 14 miles to the gallon on average. Gas was cheap at the time, but with all the guzzlers on the road, drivers were still spending an average of 15 cents a mile on gas. (All these numbers are adjusted for inflation.)

Yet people didn’t seem to mind. If anything, they cared more about getting their hands on bigger, more powerful cars, and, as a result, the overall fuel efficiency of the nation’s vehicles actually fell somewhat in the 60’s, notes Lee Schipper, research director at Embarq, a transportation consulting group.

But the oil crises of the 1970’s and early 80’s changed everything. The cost of gas spiked, eventually reaching 20 cents a mile, and the government passed a law in 1975 forcing vehicles to become more efficient. Thanks to that law and 20 years of mostly falling oil prices, Americans spent less than 7 cents a mile for gas in 1998…

Today, gas again costs about 15 cents a mile for the average driver, which gives the country some incentive to become more energy-efficient. You can cut the cost to 10 cents a mile, for example, by driving a Honda Civic or Toyota Corolla.

So the expected $4 per gallon level this summer may be a tipping point for broader fuel efficiency. An explosion of hybrids is a predictable outcome.

by Costa Tsiokos, Wed 05/10/2021 10:44:09 PM
Category: Business, Society | Permalink |

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