Stopping the Energy Crisis, One SUV at a Time

In 2007 The Economist Intelligence Unit and IBM ranked the United States as the 2nd most advanced country in the world. So how is it that one of the most technologically advanced country, with only 5 percent of the world’s population, consume 25 percent of the world’s oil? One of the largest contributing factors is our irresponsibly low Average Fuel Economy. For the next few minutes I will be discussing the negative effects of one of our countries greatest contributing factor to our oil obsession, the SUV.

First we will take a look at how SUV’s misuse is causing damage
Next we will see where America stands in the world’s oil consumption
Finally we will discuss how changing our car choices could affect our consumption

SUV’s on average have 7 seats, while regular 4 door cars are limited to 5 seats, making them perfect for people who must transport 6 or more people. This seems very practical infact; until you see who is actually driving. According to Stan Cox’s article, Get Ready for the Post-SUV World! From fall 2008; only 13% of SUV’s are owned by families of 5 or more people, in actuality a staggering 40% of SUV owners are found in households of one to two people.
This fact alone is not too terrible however. SUV’s, aka Sports Utility Vehicles are designed for off-roading, something that the average 4 door car is not able to do. It would be perfectly understandable if someone owned an SUV as a secondary car specifically for recreational use. Again this is not the case. According to Auto industry reseacher AutoPacific Inc. of Santa Ana California, only 13.4% of SUV drivers say they ever go “off-roading for recreation”
So lets take a look at this again, SUV’s are designed to carry 6 or more people comfortably, and to take you through terrain you otherwise wouldn’t be able to drive in without a truck, but the average SUV owner doesn’t do either, so really what is the point?

Lets step aside from practicality for a moment and get our bearings for how much oil we are actually consuming. In a study done by Nationmaster.com on oil consumption in 2007, the United States uses 20,680,000 gallons of oil per day. Now, the same study found that the next five most oil consuming countries combined totaled 20,621,000 gallons per day. The fact that we can consume more gas than five countries combined is nothing short of ridiculous. Especially since, according to the Energy Information Administration, at eia.doe.gov, in 2007 we were producing only 5,064,000 gallons of oil per day. So we were using four times more oil than we were producing, putting us in the hands of other countries to relieve our oil obsession

Now lets take a moment to look at how changing our car choices would affect our countries colossal waste of oil. According to the EPA, our Average Fuel Economy for this year is predicted to be at 20.8 mpg, which happens to be the same average gas mileage that large SUV’s were found to have in 2007 in a study done by The Bureau of Transportation and Statistics. Now according to Fuel-Economy.co.uk, accessed March 2009, the Average Fuel Economy in the U.K. is 37.8, nearly double what ours is at. It may not seem like a giant leap, but lets take a look for a moment of what this really means. In the 2001 article Support our Troops, Dump That SUV by Arianna Huffington at Commondreams.org, every improvement of 3 mpg in the average Fuel Economy would lower our oil consumption by 1 million barrels per day. By this math, if we were to match the U.K.’s Fuel Economy, we would be saving roughly 5.7 million gallons of oil per day. Unfortunately, we would still be the most oil guzzling country in the world, but it would at least cut our dependence by 25%. This challenge is not as far off as it may seem. With today’s oil efficient “Hybrid” cars, like the Toyota Prius, which gets on average 46 mpg, drivers can relieve their duties at the pump. It is just a matter of getting people to drop the old gas guzzling mini tank SUV, and get something much more practical.

Ok, so lets think back for a moment. One, the average SUV owner does not use the car to its full capabilities making it a colossal waste of oil. Two, their irresponsibly low gas mileage has been a large contributing to our countries oil consumption. And Three, if people traded their car for a more fuel efficient one, we could cut our oil dependency by 25%. Now, I am fully aware that SUV’s are “cool,” and “useful,” and many of you may be thinking of getting an SUV or may already own one. But I would just like you ask you one question, what are you really going to be doing with this car, will you drive it intelligently, using it only for what it is made for, or will you just be contributing to our sick oil obsession?

References:
Cox, Stan (2008, July 10). AlterNet.org. Retrieved March 2, 2009, from
Get ready for the Post-SUV World! Web site:
http://www.alternet.org/environment/90962/

Huffington, Arianna (2001, November 14). CommonDreams.org.
Retrieved March 2, 2009, from Support Our Troops, Dump That SUV Web site: http://www.commondreams.org/views01/1115-09.htm/

Plotkin, Steven (2004, November). IS BIGGER BETTER? - Moving Toward Dispassionate View of SUVs. Heldref Publications, [45(9)], [10-21].

Blanco, Sebastian (2008, September 19). Autobloggreen.com. Retrieved March 7, 2009, from EPA: Average fuel economy goes up in U.S. Web site: http://www.autobloggreen.com/2008/09/19/epa-average-fuel-economy-goes-up-in-u-s/

NationMaster.com. Retrieved March 2, 2009, from Oil > Consumption (most recent) by country Web site:
http://www.nationmaster.com/graph/ene_oil_con-energy-oil-consumption

Walczak, Jim About.com. Retrieved March 3, 2009, from 4WD Stats: How Many Four-Wheel Drive Owners Actually Go Offroad? Web site: http://4wheeldrive.about.com/od/offroad4x4atv4wd/a/offroadstats.htm

(2008, July 28). Energy Information Administration. Retrieved March 2, 2009, from Crude Oil Production Web site: http://tonto.eia.doe.gov/dnav/pet/pet_crd_crpdn_adc_mbblpd_a.htm

(2006). Fuel-Economy.co.uk. Retrieved March 2, 2009, from Best Cars for MPG Web site:
http://www.fuel-economy.co.uk/stats.shtml

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Comments 2 comments

scheng1 6 years ago

Scientists have to work hard to enable mass production of green cars. That is the only way to avert energy crisis


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"B" 6 years ago from Portland, OR Author

Yes, however that may be far in the future. So in the mean time we should be driving the most energy efficient cars that we have available. Or even better, using other forms of transportation (ie bus system, trains, bike, walking, etc). The problem isn't so much that we don't have enough scientists creating a cure, it's that we don't have enough people who care enough to help mend the process.

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