Advancements in technology have created a path to reduce gasoline consumption and American vehicles are getting progressively more fuel efficient. In 1973, the average American vehicle achieved a measly 11.9 MPG on the highway. While that number has improved considerably, to an average of 25.4 in 2015, Bloomberg reports that gasoline consumption in the United States is rising at the highest rates in nearly 4 decades.
When gasoline prices were growing at absurd rates, fuel efficiency became a top priority for car buyers and many prognosticators believed that gasoline consumption in the United States would plummet. Unfortunately, that has not been the case. According to Bloomberg, “The combination of more driving and larger cars is confounding expectations that demand would decline after 2007 as more fuel-efficient cars curbed consumption. U.S. gasoline use this year will average 9.29 million barrels a day this year, matching the 2007 peak, according to the U.S. EIA.”
Likely, the most influential factor in rising gasoline usage is the declining prices of gasoline. Cheaper gasoline allows drivers to log more miles than they would otherwise and not feel the hurt at the pump. When gasoline is cheap, road trips become more economical than flying. Additionally, cheaper gasoline makes fuel economy less of a priority and Americans are buying larger and less fuel-efficient vehicles. According to Bloomberg, a strong economy and low unemployment also contribute to rising gasoline usage.
With gasoline prices likely to increase, the benefits of a fuel-efficient vehicle become even more pronounced. For one, as gasoline prices continue their slow ascension, fuel-efficient vehicles can save thousands dollars a year. Additionally, reducing gasoline consumption is vital in limiting the amount of carbon dioxide emitted into the atmosphere. Also, a, “Oil is a non-renewable resource, and we cannot sustain our current rate of use indefinitely. Using it wisely now allows us time to find alternative technologies and fuels that will be more sustainable.” Finally, reduced fuel consumption reduces the costs and effects that come with a national dependence on foreign oil.
No one knows precisely how long gasoline will be an available resource, but the fact remains that, eventually, alternative energy sources are necessary for the future. It is important to reduce gasoline consumption, even during times of relatively low gas prices, as a means to act responsibly today and for future generations. The solution may be as simple as replacing gas guzzling clunkers with sensible, fuel efficient vehicles.