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How Has Fuel Economy Changed?

Americans are using about one-third less fuel per mile than in the early 1970s. After the first major fuel shortages in the United States in the 1970s, cars on the whole became more energy-efficient. Much of the energy efficiency of new cars, however, is offset by the fact that average vehicle occupancy is going down, which means that people are using more cars.

More facts about fuel economy:

  • It is estimated that Americans would be using almost 3 billion more barrels of oil each day if cars were still built to pre-1970s fuel efficiency standards.

  • The most fuel-efficient models of cars on the market include the Toyota Prius, Honda CR-Z and Volkswagen Golf. The least fuel-efficient models are the Bugatti Veyron — which gets only 8.0 city miles to the gallon (about 3.5 kpl) — Subaru Impreza wagons and Aston Martins.

  • Researchers speculate that fuel efficiency would have to increase to 130 miles per gallon (55 kpl) in order to avoid significant climate change by 2050.
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