There are many reasons we want to reduce the amount of gas our cars and trucks burn. Putting aside alternative fuels for the moment, simply increasing fuel efficiency is one way to achieve that goal. To that end, 100 MPG might be the magic number -- a tough, worthy and meaningful goal. Here's why...
Today's US consumer vehicle fleet averages about 21 miles per gallon (MPG).
Increasing to 50 MPG represents a 60% increase in fuel savings over today's average. In other words, for every 100 miles you travel, you would use 2 gallons of gas instead of 5 gallons. Don't get me wrong... a fleet average of 50 MPG would be fantastic. Today there are cars on the market that meet or exceed that standard, but they're the exception to the rule. We need to set the bar higher.
Increasing to 100 MPG represents a whopping 80% increase in fuel savings over today's average. Or, for every 100 miles you travel, you would use just 1 gallon of gas instead of 5 gallons. That's an average 10% gain in fuel savings for every 10 MPG in fuel efficiency. Now we're talking!
But why stop there? 200 MPG sounds a lot better, right? Or, how about 500 MPG? Not exactly. Now we enter into the world of diminishing returns for increased MPG (see chart below).
At 200 MPG, we see a 90% increase in fuel savings over today's average. So, to get an additional 10% increase in fuel savings over 100 MPG, we've had to DOUBLE fuel efficiency. The costs simply get too high, and things like safety and affordability go out the window.
At 500 MPG, we see a 96% increase in fuel savings. That's a 300 MPG increase for 6% savings. Okay, you get the picture.