I recently had my SUV in the shop for some warranty work and they gave me a small sport sedan as a ‘loaner’ car for the morning. My SUV isn’t huge – and we use it as our family hauler – but I wondered out loud how much better a smaller vehicle might be for gas mileage. The technician added, “for the environment, too”.
Here’s the math …
⁃ Average American drives 13.5K miles/year
⁃ Gasoline average $2.88 / gallon
⁃ My SUV gets 20 mpg (city); Honda Accord gets 30 mpg
⁃ Equates to a 225 gallon ‘premium’ to drive the SUV vs sedan
⁃ About $650 / year
⁃ Generates about 2.25 tons of CO2
⁃ Carbon offset price would be $19 / year
I’m not too surprised by the extra cost. I always figured that driving an SUV meant about one $10 bill a week more in gas mileage. Turns out it is just a little higher than that at $12.50/week. Yes, there are other costs – a more expensive purchase price, higher insurance rates, and maintenance to keep it going, but there are also some benefits too.
The ‘cost’ to the environment – at least in terms of green house gases – I had no real idea about. I used the current carbon cost listed on a non-profit website which acts as a ‘travel emissions offset’ by calculating CO2 usage and donating dollars collected to other non-profits committed to carbon-free energy. At just $19 extra for the entire year, I was surprised how relatively inexpensive this ‘cost’ was.
Given the utility, safety, and comfort that comes from having an SUV, I’m quite comfortable with these added costs compared with a small sedan. The odds of being involved in a serious vehicle crash alone are real enough that these costs are more than acceptable.
How do you consider fuel efficiency and greenhouse gas emissions in your vehicle choices?
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