Bigger Ain't Better
If all 68 million sport utility vehicles, minivans, and pickup trucks in the U.S. met the current 27.5 mile-per-gallon standard for cars, oil consumption in the U.S. would have been reduced by 336 million barrels in 1997, or 11 percent of the nation’s crude oil imports, according to a new study by the U.S. Public Interest Research Group. Low fuel-efficiency standards for the big vehicles also caused 187 million more tons of carbon-dioxide pollution in the U.S. in 1997, about 3 percent of the nation’s total CO2 emissions, and cost Americans an extra $13.6 billion at the gas pump in 1998. SUVs and other light trucks, which average 20 miles to the gallon, accounted for 45 percent of all vehicles sold in the U.S. last year. US PIRG is calling for a standard of 42 mpg by 2010.