Git Yer Cars! Peak Oil Needs You!

Bertel Schmitt
by Bertel Schmitt

Edmunds’ always dead-on Autoobserver brings us the shocking news that Americans don’t drive enough. That, or they use the wrong cars. Whatever it may be, Americans are about to lose the carefully cultivated title “world’s biggest gasoline oinkers.” Gasoline consumption hit rock bottom in July!

Says Edmunds:

“U.S. demand for gasoline last month was at its lowest for July in a decade as the slower-than-expected economic recovery appeared to cause many people to either cut back on driving or buy more fuel-efficient cars. U.S. refinery gasoline production in July dropped 2.3 percent from a year earlier, marking the first year-over-year drop for 2011, the American Petroleum Institute (API) said in a report released late last week.”

There are multiple reasons for people taking a pass on gas. Let’s investigate.

“Gasoline demand relative to previous summers appeared to be hindered by a stubbornly high unemployment rate,” says Edmunds. Aha! We aren’t prudent, we’re po!

“Consumers aren’t spending, and jobless claims have increased, so it isn’t surprising gasoline demand was down and overall demand slipped a bit,” John Felmy, Chief Economist at the petroleum-pushing institute moaned.

Horrible: Not only do Americans buy less gasoline, they also save on overalls! What’s next? A resurgence of streaking?

Americans indeed develop nasty habits: They buy miserly cars, and – OMG! – they drive less. Over to you, Edmunds:

“Americans appear to have increased purchases of four-cylinder cars, even as deliveries for many small-engined models from Japanese automakers such as Toyota and Honda were hindered by the tsunami and earthquake that struck Japan in March. General Motors’ Chevrolet Cruze compact sedan accounted for 10 percent of the automaker’s unit sales through July, while Ford Focus unit sales increased 7.3 percent and the relaunched Fiesta sales were way up.”

Subcompacts aren’t taking over America – yet. According to Edmunds, they “accounted for 4.7 percent of U.S. vehicle purchases during the first seven months of the year.” But there is a nasty little trend:

“Sub compact sales are up from 3.6 percent a year earlier, while the propensity to buy entry level SUVs and luxury cars as well as large trucks are down this year, according to statistics compiled by So while consumers may be responding to economic signals that are mixed at best, car-buying habits may be tilting as well.”

That’s not all. Americans are giving up their hard-earned freedom of driving anywhere, anytime, anyfar. Chief Economist Lacey Plache paints a grim picture:

“We have been in an economic soft patch this summer. There is quite likely decreased demand for driving vacations and other non-essential driving due to higher gas prices since late February and due to still weak economic conditions.”

We can’t have that, Best & Brightest. Stop what you are doing. Cease reading immediately (even TTAC – it’s for a good cause.) Hop in your car, warm up that engine before starting, drive like Jack, and for Pete’s sake – fill ‘er up on your way home!

Take the scenic route.

Bertel Schmitt
Bertel Schmitt

Bertel Schmitt comes back to journalism after taking a 35 year break in advertising and marketing. He ran and owned advertising agencies in Duesseldorf, Germany, and New York City. Volkswagen A.G. was Bertel's most important corporate account. Schmitt's advertising and marketing career touched many corners of the industry with a special focus on automotive products and services. Since 2004, he lives in Japan and China with his wife <a href=""> Tomoko </a>. Bertel Schmitt is a founding board member of the <a href=""> Offshore Super Series </a>, an American offshore powerboat racing organization. He is co-owner of the racing team Typhoon.

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3 of 27 comments
  • Russycle Russycle on Aug 25, 2011

    With the exception of a rarely driven (and sadly departed) XJ6, all my cars have been 4-bangers for the past 20 years. If you're not towing or chauffeuring the Osmond family, 4 cylinders is really all you need. Looks like more people are figuring that out.

    • Eldard Eldard on Aug 26, 2011

      On another car site a poster said it's hard to pass using a 4 banger. I told him if you can't overtake with a 4 then you really don't know how to drive. I also told him that he is, indeed, an American. lolz

  • Zackman Zackman on Aug 26, 2011

    C'mon B&B! I can't carry everyone! My 100-mile-per-day commute began this week. Plus, we just got back from a road trip to St. Louis, but I can't help that my car averaged 34.65 mpg either, but I'm trying to do my part! Thus far, I am still gainfully employed, but as we all know, that can change in a heartbeat. We'll see how this goes. Once I have some time under my belt, in a few weeks I'll report on my car's overall average mpg on my new route.