Even With Cheap Gas, We Still Want Fuel Efficient Vehicles

by Benjamin Jones on February 9, 2009


Image: Oil prices over one year, NYT

According to the Consumer Federation of America, it’s true. Even though gas is a little more than half as expensive as it was last summer, the same percentage of Americans (76%) have fuel economy their concern when buying a new vehicles. This shows not only that consumers aren’t forgetting the high gas prices of the past, but that they expect those gas prices to return sometime in the near future.

However, I don’t quite buy that people are actually more concerned with fuel economy. A quick poke around Google’s keyword reporting tool reveals that searches for things like “fuel economy,” “gas mileage,” and other keywords related to fuel efficiency are way below average.

This doesn’t necessarily discount the testing done by the CFA, but it might point to the fact that more Americans are becoming concerned with “buying” fuel economy rather than practicing it. Most of us can get upwards of a 30% increase in fuel economy just by following some ecodriving tips, but with all the recent hype around hybrids and cars like the Chevy Volt, it seems like consumers have taken the bait, believing hybrids are the key to saving money on gas.

I’m not knocking technology, but a change of vehicle without a change in attitude is an unfortunately short-sighted approach. What do you think? Are attitudes changing or just images?

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1 Matthew February 9, 2009 at 7:56 am

If the key to saving the planet/ourselves from climate change is changing the way we act, then we will fail. I know a lot of people who have easy access to recycling and don’t do it, the only way for it to work i sto have a machine sort it our for them. I believe the same is true for transportation planes, trains, and truck drivers can change habits, but they are being paid to drive. Regular people want cars to drive themselves, so they don’t have to do anything.

2 Randy February 9, 2009 at 11:10 am

Yes, you are correct that ecodriving is a free way to increase mileage. I’ve tried it and I know it works. But it’s not easy. It requires concentration and a steadier foot that tires me quickly.

Usually when I’m trying to do this, I can’t have a conversation *and* ecodrive at the same time. Perhaps this is *my* limitation or I’m doing it wrong. I don’t know.

I also know that when I try to drive slower (60 in a 65), my wife asks why I’m driving so slow and wants me to speed up so we can get to our destination sooner. Yes, I know that I should educate her, but I have to pick the time and place. In the car is *not* the place.

I also believe that *technology* will also be the ultimate solution. I wish I had more intelligent cruise control that wouldn’t mash down on the gas when it’s one MPH under the set speed or when it’s going up a small grade.


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