Here's an interesting article on the fallacy of touting MPG as a measure of fuel efficiency. It basically says that you should think about how many gallons of fuel a vehicle would use over a certain mileage - gallons per mile (GPM).
For instance, if you have a car that gets 15 MPG, you will use 800 gallons of fuel over 12,000 miles. Switching to a car that gets 25 MPG would cover that same distance using only 480 gallons (savings of 320 gallons).
Now let's say you have a car that gets 30 MPG, it would cover that distance while using 400 gallons of fuel. Switching to a vehicle that gets 40 MPG (same 10 MPG boost as above) only saves 100 gallons over the same distance. In fact, to achieve a 320 gallon savings, you'd have to drive a car that got 150 MPG!
People would save a lot more money and do more for reducing our dependence on foreign oil if they would just upgrade to moderately efficient vehicles that averaged around 25-30 MPG.
Yep, I know I described the Volt. The biggest issue there is price and ability to put carseats in the back. Otherwise I'm looking at TDI's (as mentioned earlier) and also the Nissan Versa or Honda Fit. I probably won't actually buy until this summer, so I'm hoping the economy stays down till then so I can get a good deal. FYI, new TDI's get a $1300 tax credit until 2010 for the clean diesel, so the true cost to buy the diesel as a $2000 option is really only about $700. With current fuel costs around Marshalltown ($1.839 for mid-grade/ethanol, $2.129 for diesel), assuming 43 mpg for the TDI equates to ~37 mpg for a gas car.
CarolinaCy - it's not so much a fallacy, as you have to realize it's all about percent improvement and that there are diminishing returns. I agree that it's much more obvious looking at the numbers based on gallons per 100 miles. The Europeans measure fuel efficiency in litres per 100 kilometers for that reason.
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