Reuters reports on a novel concept — adopting a measure of consumption that people could easily understand for fuel:
When presented with a series of car choices in which fuel efficiency was defined in miles per gallon, the students could not easily identify the choice that would result in the greatest gains in fuel efficiency, he said.
People had a much easier time when fuel efficiency was expressed in gallons per 100 miles. In that case, a car that gets 18 miles per gallon uses 5.5 gallons of gas per 100 miles, and a car that gets 28 miles per gallon uses just 3.6 gallons per 100 miles. With gasoline prices over $4 a gallon, that’s a difference of about $8 per 100 miles.
“If we just turn everything around, you can see where are the large savings in gallons of gas,” Larrick said in a telephone interview. The idea is not new. Many other countries, especially in Europe, already use a standard that compares gas used per trip.
Uh-oh. Does he realize that comparing the US to Europe is likely to create discontent among those in America who refuse to acknowledge progress can happen anywhere else in the world?
To translate miles per gallon into gallons per 10,000, Larrick said people can simply divide 10,000 by miles per gallon. Cars with the highest miles per gallon are always the most fuel efficient, he said. It is when people are trying to replace a car that they may be misled.
That’s how he became interested in this problem.
“We were trying to decide whether to get rid of a minivan and go for a station wagon versus getting rid of a sedan and going for a really high-mileage hybrid car,” Larrick said.
“We realized in the end we were better off trading in the minivan and only gaining 10 miles per gallon then we would be trying to swap out the sedan for a highly efficient car.”
Excellent article. The fact that it highlights a real measure instead of searching for the most effective marketing campaign or the creation of feelings about better consumption…it’s practically un-American.