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What is fuel economy?

Save money on gas!


Fuel economy
(in automobiles) is the amount of fuel required to move the automobile over a given distance. While the fuel efficiency of petroleum engines has improved markedly in recent decades, this does not necessarily translate into fuel economy of cars, as people in developed countries tend to buy bigger and heavier cars.

Unfortunate trends in US fuel efficiency
Since 1975, overall new light-duty vehicle fuel economy has moved through four phases:
  • a rapid increase from 1975 through the early 1980s,
  • a slower increase until reaching its peak in 1987,
  • a gradual decline until 2004, and
  • an increase in 2005 and 2006, with 2007 levels projected to be similar to 2006.

Fuel economy continues to be a major area of public and policy interest for several reasons, including:
  • Fuel economy is directly related to energy security because light-duty vehicles account for approximately 40 percent of all U.S. oil consumption, and much of this oil is imported.
  • Fuel economy is directly related to the cost of fueling a vehicle and is of great interest when crude oil and gasoline prices rise.
  • Fuel economy is directly related to emissions of greenhouse gases (i.e., carbon dioxide). Light-duty vehicles contribute about 20 percent of all U.S. carbon dioxide emissions.

Green Vehicle Guide
Use this guide to choose the cleanest and most fuel-efficient vehicle that meets your needs. Low emissions and good fuel economy are both important for the environment.

Fuel economy-maximizing behaviors
describe techniques that drivers can use to optimize their automobile fuel economy. The energy in fuel consumed in driving is lost in many ways, including engine inefficiency, aerodynamic drag, rolling friction, and kinetic energy lost to braking (absent regenerative braking). Driver behavior can influence all of these. The city mileage of conventional cars is lower than highway mileage due to: 1) a high proportion of idling time, 2) operation mostly at very inefficient low-output engine operating points, and 3) more frequent braking.

Think in gallons per mile
If soaring gasoline prices have prompted you to look for a more fuel-efficient ride, using miles per gallon as a guide could lead you astray, U.S. researchers said on Thursday.
Instead, they propose a new standard based on gallons per mile, which gives people a far better idea of how much gasoline they might save by switching trading in that gas-guzzling minivan.

Gas Mileage
Here's a quiz. Which saves more gas: trading in a 16-mile-a-gallon gas guzzler for a slightly more efficient car that gets 20 mpg? Or going from a gas-sipping sedan of 34-mpg to a hybrid that gets 50 mpg?
If you guessed the second choice, you're wrong.
Even a small improvement in gas guzzlers saves more gas than a big improvement in cars that already save. But cars aren't advertised that way in the U.S.
If they were rated in gallons per mile instead of the other way around, people might get a better idea of how to save gas.

fueleconomy.gov/
Provides much semi-useful information relating to fuel economy in the United States.

mymilemarker.com
Ultra useful FREE web based tool to help you track and predict your vehicle mileage and gasoline costs.
Update 20081004: It appears my account information has been lost. What a bummer.

Long term solutions for gas savings
There are things that individual drivers can do to improve fuel efficiency, such as driving less aggressively, and at lower speeds. But there are also things that government can do to impose better fuel efficiency, by changing the roadways.
The changes include using roundabouts instead of intersections with traffic lights, lowering speed limits, and removing some stop signs. All of those could help drivers reduce gas consumption.

short term solutions for gas savings
Motorcycle and scooter use is up, in part due to high gas prices. Is it a smart move to swap four wheels for two? Pete terHorst of the American Motorcyclist Association says yes.

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