Study: NW gasoline consumption falling to 1996 levels

Aug 30, 2012

The high price of gasoline is leading Northwesterners to drive less and use more fuel-efficient cars, according to the Sightline Institute, a Seattle-based environment and policy research nonprofit.

According to the study:

“Washington and Oregon are on track to burn less gasoline in their cars and trucks this year than at any time since 1996 – less even than in 2008, when gas prices spiked and the economy cratered. … At least for the 
moment, the plateau in gas consumption that began in the
late 1990s has turned into a gentle downward slide.”

In its report on the survey, Publicola adds that it came on the heels of President Obama’s announcement yesterday that the U.S. will adopt a new mileage target of 54.5 miles per gallon for new cars and trucks – effectively doubling the fuel efficiency of the nation’s new vehicles by 2025.

Sightline says better gas mileage and fewer trips are the main factors.

“Of the two, declines in driving – particularly among Northwesterners under the age of 35 ­– have made the greater impact. Looking to the future, however, gains in vehicle efficiency, combined with high
and volatile gas prices, demographic shifts, and a range of social and technological trends, all point towards continued declines in gasoline use in the Pacific Northwest.”

Here’s a mega-graphic of the study’s findings provided by Sightline.