by Frank Scotti | 11-16-20 I don’t spend a whole lot on gas. I only fill up my tank once a week. About $50 per fill-up, if I'm not driving my work truck. So no big deal. Right? At least that's how it feels.
Just for fun, I wanted to see if I could calculate how much money I have spent buying gas for the cars I have owned and driven over the years. Turns out, it was pretty easy to do. And quite a shocker if you have never done this before.
First, I began driving at age 18, so I have been driving for 36 years. Of course some years I drove more, some less over the course of the year. But I am assuming that I drove an average of 15,000 miles per year. We bought a new Ford Escape in 2006, and after 10 years, it had 165K miles on it, slightly over the 15,000 miles per year US average.
Next, let’s assume that my average gas mileage of all of my vehicles over time was 20 MPG. Some vehicles got better gas mileage, some worse. My 1971 Ford Ranchero 351C was on the low end, no surprise.
The third assumption is that the 40-year averaged price per gallon, adjusted for inflation, since 1980 (when I started driving) is $2.80/gallon. Source: eia.gov, energy.gov, and inflationdata.com. $2.80 is the inflation-adjusted estimate for California, and will also vary by area of California, but again, I’m making an assumption. I think that number is horrendously low, but I have to stick to the actual real data, where I can.
So, here’s my math. 38 years driving. Averaging 15,000 miles per year. Getting 20MPG fuel efficiency. Paying an average of $2.80 per gallon.
(38 X 15,000) / 20 mpg X 2.8 ($/gal) = $79,800 total spent on gas since I started driving. $79,800. Or $2,100/year. And that’s average.
Let’s upscale that for giggles. In 2018, there were 227.5 million licensed drivers in the US, and the 2020 projection is 230,000,000. Source: statistica.com
Lets assume just 50% of those are active, daily drivers. That gives us 115,000,000 active, daily drivers. Multiply that by our average cost per year of gas from above, to get $241,500,000,000 spent on gasoline for passenger vehicles in the U.S. pre year. Add aviation fuel, and that number doubles. Add commercial vehicles and that number quadruples. That’s over a TRILLION DOLLARS that americans are paying every year to mostly foreign-owned oil companies, companies that typically pay little or no taxes and receive over $20 billion from the U.S. in subsidies every year. (eyes.org)
Consider this another argument for the importance of migrating to electric passenger vehicles that will be powered by locally-generated energy, keeping $241 billion in the US, creating local jobs, and saving every driver money in the process. Oh, there's the cleaner air side effect from switching to all electric vehicles, if that's worth anything.