Fuel consumption down 11% from 2004
Fuel consumption by U.S. drivers has dropped 11 percent since 2004, says the author of a recent study from the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute, according to the Detroit Bureau.
The study looked at fuel consumption per person, per licensed driver, per household and per registered vehicle. Each of these rates reached their peak in 2003 or 2004 several years before the start of the Great Recession and decreased by 13 percent to 17 percent between then and 2011, the period covered by the study. Because the reductions were not caused by short-term economic changes, and because fuel economy is expected to keep improving, fuel consumption may have reached its peak for the long term.
We now have fewer light-duty vehicles, we drive each of them less, and we consume less fuel than in the past, the study says. Current fuel consumption rates are lower than they were in 1984.
Because the change in fuel consumption cant be explained by economic changes, the study looks to broader societal changes that influence the need for vehicles: increased telecommuting, increased use of public transportation and increased urbanization of the population. The big question, of course, is whether any or all of these changes turn out to be permanent.Download Bulletin PDF