Many of my friends and family have purchased new cars, or new used cars, in the last couple of years. Most of these people would define themselves as “progressive” if not “radical” and almost all of them would come out on the David Suzuki rather than the George Bush side of environmental issues.
To this end, I decided to look at the fuel economy of the vehicles of my friends and family, and the results are presented below. I used the fueleconomy.gov site, run by the U.S. Department of Energy and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, for my figures; as a result, any differences between U.S. and Canadian models won’t be accounted for. I set the price of gas at 68 cents a litre (or $2.61 a gallon). I guessed where I didn’t know the specific year, model, or engine type. And of course older cars won’t be performing at their peak these days. All fuel economy numbers are combined city/highway miles per gallon; dollar figures are in Canadian dollars.
|Johnny||1998 Chevy Blazer||18|
|Steve||2003 Jeep Liberty||19|
|Dan||2002 Subaru WRX||23|
|Carol||2002 Chrysler Sebring||23|
|Mike||2000 VW Golf||24|
|Norm||1990 Honda Accord||24|
|Robert||2003 Honda CRV||24|
|Steven||1993 Dodge Spirit||24|
|Dave||2003 VW Jetta Wagon||25|
|Ann||1998 Toyota Camry||26|
|Me||2000 VW Jetta||27|
|Kevin||2002 VW New Beetle||27|
|Ray||2002 Mini Cooper||28|
|Catherine||1995 Ford Escort Wagon||29|
|Frances||1996 Honda Civic||32|
Johnny’s last-place finish is no surprise, as the Chevy Blazer isn’t exactly known as a paragon of fuel economy, and he didn’t purchase it with any illusions that it was. The surprise, for me, was Catherine’s second-place ranking with a 1995 Ford Escort Wagon; I never realized these were so fuel efficient.
If you look at the difference in what it costs for fuel, based on 15,000 miles/year, Johnny will pay $2175 and Frances will pay $1223, a difference of $952.
In terms of pollution, the difference between Johnny (10.5 tons/year of greenhouse gases) and Frances (5.9 tons/year) is 4.6 tons. It says here that U.S. President Clinton proposed “reducing U.S. emissions of greenhouse gases to 1990 levels by the year 2012.” The article goes on to say:
…if the United States agrees to limit its emission of greenhouse gases to 1.6 billion metric tons annually (the 1990 level), then the average American can produce no more than 5.3 tons of greenhouse gases if our population is 298 million in 2025, as it would be with moderate levels of immigration.
Because the vehicle figures above don’t include the greenhouse gases we produce from our electricity usage, we’ve all obviously got some ways to go, no matter the car we drive.
In 2003, the best fuel economy you can get from a generally available fuel-burning car is 64 mpg from the Honda Insight. It produces 3.1 tons/year of greenhouse gases, and has fuel costs of $612/year.
By way of comparison, the 2003 Toyota RAV4 Electric gets 112 mpg, and emits 3.8 tons/year of greenhouse gases (they say that “For electric vehicles, mpg represents the number of miles that can be traveled using an amount of electricity equivalent to the energy in a gallon of gasoline.”).
For those of you claiming poverty, the 2003 Toyota Echo gets 38 mpg, and produces the same emissions as the Insight, 3.1 tons/year. The Toyota Yaris, which is the model the new Canadian 2004 Toyota Echo Hatchback is based on, is rated at 50 mpg/combined in Europe. Both models are very cheap.