Good News: We’re Driving More Fuel Efficient Cars

We're driving slightly less often, using less fuel and creating fewer emissions:

Brad Plumer reports:

New vehicles purchased in November of 2012 got 24.1 miles per gallon, on average. That includes all new cars, SUVs, and light trucks. By contrast, new vehicles averaged just 20.1 miles per gallon average back in the fall of 2007.

That's pretty significant. Thanks to actions by the president, in 13 years average fuel efficiency will grow to 35.4 miles per gallon. Now if we can only get rid of the gasoline and replace it with something renewable, cheap and clean-burning.


  • bphoon

    Cellulosic-based biofuels made from switch grass and such. Carbon dioxide emissions from these bio fuels are are 85% less than gasoline and 52% less than grain-based ethanol. The potential feed stocks are much more diverse, available and sustainable and can have greater indirect positive effects on the environment than grain-based ethanol. For example, organic waste makes up 71.51% of all landfill waste. Of this, only gypsum board (1.6% of all organic waste) cannot be used for cellulosic ethanol conversion. Therefore, cellulosic biofuel production can reduce landfill as well as the production of methane, a greenhouse gas that is a byproduct of the decomposition of such material. From Wikipedia:

    Reduction of the disposal of solid waste through cellulosic ethanol conversion would reduce solid waste disposal costs by local and state governments. It is estimated that each person in the US throws away 4.4 lb (2.0 kg) of trash each day, of which 37% contains waste paper, which is largely cellulose. That computes to 244 thousand tons per day of discarded waste paper that contains cellulose. The raw material to produce cellulosic ethanol is not only free, it has a negative cost—i.e., ethanol producers can get paid to take it away.

    An estimated 323 million tons of cellulose-containing raw materials which could be used to create ethanol are thrown away each year in US alone. [T]ransforming them into ethanol…might provide as much as 30% of the current fuel consumption in the United States. Moreover, even land marginal for agriculture could be planted with cellulose-producing crops… resulting in enough production to substitute for all the current oil imports into the United States.

    The process of cellulosic ethanol conversion from agricultural feedstocks uses all parts of the plants rather than just the edible parts. These crops are less water-dependent, provide better wildlife habitat, can be grown on land not presently considered usable for agriculture and can be grown in all parts of the world.

    In addition, these plants require fewer agricultural inputs, such as herbicides, than grain and yield roughly twice the volume per acre than grains. They prevent soil erosion and improve soil fertility. Even the non-usable by products of conversion can be burned to fuel the production processes while grain-based fuel production requires the use of natural gas or coal. The raw materials for cellulosic-based fuels are much more available and sustainably produced than those for grain-based fuels, thereby more than balancing the comparative carbon footprints of each process.

    While the production processes of cellulosic-based fuels are presently more complex and expensive than that of grain-based fuels, prior estimates were that the total overall cost of producing cellulosic ethanol should be less by now than for corn-based ethanol. As the technology develops and production increases some estimate the cost of a gallon of cellulosic ethanol will be less than $1.00 a gallon within ten years.

    What’s not to like?

  • ryan carson

    Where’s the Ross Douthat column decrying the decline of our most sacred tradition of driving our cars to the mall?

    • http://phydeauxpseaks.blogspot.com Bob Rutledge

      Maybe he’s gonna leave it to David Fucking Brooks (h/t blogger Driftglass), who will claim it’s the fault of both sides… or George Will, who will tie it to a combination of the DH and the Yankess not making it to the World Series this year.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Rob-Fairman/1507058515 Rob Fairman

    If I were a rich(-ish) man: http://www.teslamotors.com/