Jean Chatzky confesses to having recently replaced a station wagon with an SUV, and now wondering if that was such a great idea. She _actually did a numerical analysis_, to which I say, go Chatzky! In the course of this analysis, she tosses out some averages she attributes to Cambridge Energy Research:
13600 miles/year for the average American
700 gallons of gas annually for the average American
She drives a little less, but gets slightly worse gas mileage and thus uses slightly more gas. R. and I were just discussing how much we're putting on each of our two vehicles. The Fit is running about 10K after a year. the Odyssey is dropping like a stone, but let's be generous and say we put 8K on it over the last year. I'm going to ignore rental car miles here. I'd have to ask R. what we're averaging in the van, but I think it's 24 or so. I know (because he keeps mentioning it) that he's been getting 44 in the Fit.
10000/44 = 228 gallons in the Fit
8000/24 = 333 gallons in the Odyssey
For a combined total for the family of 561. This strikes me as improbable. Maybe I should go double check some of those numbers. Altho now that I think about it, it costs around $70 to fill the van's tank currently, and we fill it every 3-4 weeks, which implies under 300 gallons per year in the van.
I'd pat myself on the back for being so frugal, but mostly it's an artifact of how rarely we get out.
She then goes on to dismiss the idea of buying a smaller car for commuting, because 20 grand for a third car is not so good. Is she including insurance/licensing/etc. in this figure? Because the Fit, Yaris, Versa etc. are each considerably less than 20K. Assuming you can find one to buy. A Prius, not so much. She rattles through other options: drive BF's smaller car for longer trips -- at 23 mpg, a small improvement over her 16 mpg; I gotta say, tho, the WRX got 20ish and that was a good enough reason for me to switch to the Fit a year ago -- and I'd been _planning_ that switch for over a year; use public transportation, plan trips, tires at proper inflation, accelerate more gradually, blah, blah, blah.
Wonderfully enough, she too uses the word conservation towards the end of the article, and throughout she notes tons-of-carbon along with dollars/gallons of gas.
The idea to call ahead to make sure it's there before you go out to buy it is a particularly interesting one, in terms of the implications for bricks-and-mortar vs. online retailing over the short-medium term. At what point does shipping save money over the gas cost of the errand? At what point does Prime shipping make sense? And what happens when FedEx and UPS start feeding their cost increases through to Amazon et al, and they pass those increases more clearly through to the customer? I bet I could make a buck or two off of really solid answers to these questions.