“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle” - Often attributed to Plato but likely from Ian McLaren (pseudonym of Reverend John Watson)

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Best case scenario

In my last post, I conservatively estimated that the U.S. would be able to immediately reduce its need for imported oil by about 5% by changing non-commercial driving technique in a mostly benign way. What about an optimistic yet not, in my opinion, pie in the sky estimate?

Well, I'm now at 22.7 m.p.g. in my 2000 Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited. The E.P.A. says I should get 15 m.p.h. city and 20 m.p.h. highway. I estimated in an earlier post that 36 out of every 60 miles I should be getting "highway mileage" and 24 out of every 60 miles I should be getting "city mileage." So a weighted average E.P.A. estimate for my driving regime would be (36/60)*20+(24/60)*15=18 m.p.g. But I've demonstrated that it's possible, with this driving regime, to get 22.7 m.p.g. at least.

Now, the vast majority of people to whom I've talked, about whom I've read, etc. complain that they don't achieve the E.P.A. estimates. Let's say the average is 90% of the E.P.A. estimate. I'm getting 126.1% of the E.P.A. estimate for my car. Suppose everyone went from 90% to 126.1% of the E.P.A. estimate. That would result in a 40.1% increase in gas mileage nationwide or a decrease to (1/1.401) times 100% = 71.4% of the fuel used before the change. That is, personal transportation fuel use would be reduced by 28.6%.

Using the figures in my previous post, that would result in a reduction of .286 times 6.4 Mbbl/day or 1.83 Mbbl/day. That's about 13.9% of our daily oil imports. Now we're getting someplace. All this without a single person driving a single mile less than they are currently driving or buying a more fuel efficient vehicle. And remember, this completely leaves out commercial use of transportation fuels.

Can it happen? Yes, of course. Look at the rationing during World War II. Will it happen? Probably not, but something much more onerous surely will.

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