Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Yesterday I paid $3.11/gallon for gas. I was pissed. There's a lot of talk about using more ethanol as an additive in order to reduce our demand on foreign oil, but I have my doubts about ethanol production's efficiency. I might have to write about that another day.

What I don't understand is why we have so many SUVs. If it's really that big a deal, so big that our government is considering offering billions of dollars in subsidies to ethanol producers so as to produce more fuel, why don't we just minimize the amount of fuel we're currently using? Is the pitiful average mpg of SUVs even remotely defensible?

I did some searching around and found claims that by raising the mpg standard of SUVs to the same level as cars the US would save 1 million barrels of oil per day (we use approximately 20.8 million per day). That would be a significant reduction. I'm never satisfied with general claims, however, so I wanted to do the calculations myself.

I was surprised at how difficult it was to find good car-related data on the web. I'm used to finding what I want in a few minutes, but I searched around for about a half hour before finding what I needed, and I still didn't get everything. Here's what I found:

There are 16 million SUVs in America
The average SUV gets 17.8 miles per gallon
There are approximately 19.5 gallons of auto fuel in a barrel of oil

Assuming each SUV drives 12,000 miles in a year, these numbers calculate out to 553.15 million barrels of oil per year for SUV use, or 1.52 million barrels/day. That means to acheive the 1 million barrels per day reduction mentioned above SUV efficiency would have to increase by 66%. The resulting SUV would therefore have to get 52 mpg! That's impossible. According to my calculations (I've always wanted to say that), holding SUVs to the same requirements as cars (27.5 mpg) would result in saving 530,000 barrels of oil per day. That's no small amount, but it's half what many websites (including Senator Feinstein's) claim.

Believe me, I'm not trying to defend SUVs. Increasing their mpg requirements would reduce our dependence on foreign oil (security bonus) and reduce our gas prices (economic bonus). The only downsides would be losses for the automotive industry (who make a killing on SUVs) and a loss of self-esteem for the millions of Americans who need to feel powerful by piloting a large metal object.

I still want to get to the bottom of this number discrepancy. My data was taken from a variety of websites and I'm sure some of the numbers are from different years. If anyone knows of a good site where I can find all the data I need to make more accurate calculations please let me know.

In music news, things are chugging along. The t-shirts are selling fairly well and I've been writing a lot. Not sure yet how many songs will be on the new CD but I'm trying to make it a full-length; it's about time for one of those. You know what, it will be an LP, I'll decide that right now. 12 songs. I promise.

I've also been working on a few more Inquisitions. And yes, the Bishop Allen one is almost done.

1 comment:

  1. Cool!!! More Lost on Purpose songs for my iPod!!