Thinking about newfangled cars

Posted on Monday, July 14th, 2008 at 10:45 pm by JTE

As Americans in their role as consumers embark on a massive shift in preferences regarding automobiles, and as entrepreneurs proffer some pretty neat technological advances, yet and still…Consider this. In 2006 (year of most recent data I could find on the Department of Transportation website), 134,836,165,000 gallons of gasoline were burned by cars, motorcycles, and light trucks on US roads. This was what it took to power the 135,399,945 automobiles, 6,678,958 motorcycles, and 107,943,782 light trucks (pickups/Vans/SUVs) we all own. (And leaves out the buses and big trucks and all the diesel they burn.) All told, and excluding Puerto Rico (no offense intended), 2,784,085,000,000 miles [PDF] of driving were done with all that fuel. (This mileage sum excludes buses and big trucks, I think.)

That’s an average of 539 gallons of gasoline for each auto, motorcycle, or light truck over the year. And it’s an average of 20.6 miles per gallon.

If we could magically convert the entire US automobile, motorcycle, and light truck fleet into vehicles getting 100 mpg, but our driving habits remained the same, we would still consume approximately 27,840,850,000 gallons of gasoline. This is very nearly the same amount of gasoline that was consumed on US roadways in 1947 [large PDF file]. Recall that even by that point in time, we were burning enough fossil fuels to have put us on the global warming track.

Anyone for a bike?

Photo courtesy of Madaise.

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