America Expected to Continue Using Less Gasoline

01/03/2011 @ 1:14 pm, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

Gasoline demand in the United States hit an all-time high in 2006, and ever since then has been on the decline. Aided by rising prices, more efficient vehicles, and a slowing population growth, the United States as a whole is not only using less gas than before the recession, but we as a country have entered into a continued trend of decreased gasoline demand, which government officials and industry executives believe will be a permanent trend from this point forward. While current usage is about 8% less than the 2006 peak, experts expect to see as much as a 20% reduction in gasoline use by 2030.

Experts agree that even when the economy rebounds from the recession, gasoline usage will remain below the 2006 figure, which should remain forever untouched barring any massive economic boom periods or drastic fuel price cuts. According to the Associated Press, Americans used about 8.22 million gallons of oil (344 gallons) per day in 2010, down 8% from 2006. That reduction can be attributed to a number of factors such as higher fuel efficiency fleet figures for manufacturers, a higher use of hybrids, an increase in bio-fuels like bio-diesel and ethanol, and continued high gas prices, among other factors.

While the USA might be using less gasoline, it is expected that there will be 27 million more cars on the road by the end of the new decade. Also, developing countries like India and China are expected to start using more fossil fuels in the coming years, which will actually increase the global demand for barrels of oil. In 2011 alone, an expected 88.3 million more barrels of oil are expected to be produced to meet this increased demand.

In the interim, the United States is still #1 both in outright and per capita usage of gasoline, but that status, and the associated buying power that comes with it, is expected to wane over the coming years as China (currently the #2 outright user of petroleum) surpasses us. It’ll be interesting to see from this news how companies like ExxonMobil adapt to the changing market for gasoline, both domestically and abroad.

As someone who dodged the bullet working for the world’s second largest public company (ExxonMobil also has the economy to make it a top 30 country by GDP), I can say that the corporate philosophy seem ill-prepared for a nationwide shift in fuel consumption, and is based on the assumption that a) there will always be a demand for oil, and b) the supply for that demand will never run out. After a discussion on finite resources, that 5 minute job interview concluded.

Source: Associated Press via Autoblog; Photo: antwerpenR /  Creative Commons – Attribution Generic 2.0

  • Andrey

    Gas is still so cheap in the US it is a joke. What would really cut gas consumption here is if Americans paid similar prices to the rest of the world!
    On another note the writing has been on the wall about oil and gasoline for years. Way back after 1970’s oil shocks, everyone was up in arms about high gas prices etc etc. There was plenty of talk about getting off the dependancy on oil. Well almost 40 years later and exactly the same events are playing out. What the American public should do is ask why the warnings of the 70’s were ignored by the politicians who clearly could have done something?
    I think a huge opportunity has been lost by the U.S. ………
    Since the depression era of the late 20’s governments had the foresight (and balls) to build the dams, interstate road networks and develop the technology to go to the moon. Had someone had the vision and guts in the 70’s to take on big oil and the auto industry and develop a technology that made the internal combustion engine an out of date antique (like a steam engine) the U.S would now be getting a royalty from every single manufacturer in the world for every single vehicle made. The U.S would be selling its product overseas instead of being at the mercy of OPEC and the oil rich countries. The American public have foolish, self serving, greedy gutless people serving them in Government. It is sad to see a country that has done many great things, miss such a fantastic opportunity. The money spent on wars alone, since the 70’s would have paid for the it. One of the Japanese, European (or maybe even Chinese) companies may soon have a fuel cell vehicle running and people will line up to buy them. I wish Hondas’ fuel cell car was fully available. I would love to manufacture my own fuel from my household water supply and tell others to take a leap!

  • Hopefully the last price jump was the wakeup call the American public needed

  • GeddyT

    It’s not about paying what Europe pays so much as paying the REAL cost of the fuel. If our government didn’t subsidize oil companies both directly and indirectly via military protection and looking the other way environmentally, the price would NOT be $3.50 per gallon, and investment into alternative energy would be much further advanced.

  • Tom


    Actully, the US pays more for gas than any other country. The only difference is that other countries can see the final price at the pump while Americans never see the breakdown per gallon in our “defense” budget.