Total Motor Vehicle Fuel Consumption and Travel in the United States

Total Motor Vehicle Fuel Consumption and Travel in the United States, 1960-2016

Source: BTS. Motor vehicles, fuel consumption and travel data include light duty vehicles, buses, trucks and motorcycles.

The Oil Shocks of the 1970s and early 1980s were accompanied by an increase in the fuel efficiency of motor vehicles. While in 1970, a motor vehicle was consuming on average 800 gallons a year (about 12.5 miles per gallon), in 2016 this figure dropped to 658 gallons a year (about 22 miles a gallon). The system-wide improvement in energy efficiency was consequently around 40% compared to the 1970s. However, the 1990s saw an increase in the average amount of fuel consumed per vehicle as commuting distances and congestion increased, especially in urban areas.