American Gas Consumption Slightly Down, China’s Way Up

Beijing Traffic

The Associated Press reported this week that Americans in 2010 burnt an average of 8.2 million barrels—that’s 344 million gallons—of gasoline per day. That sounds like a lot, but it’s actually 8 percent less than the peak in 2006. Even as more cars clog U.S. roads in the coming decades, more efficient auto technologies like hybrids, electric cars and high-mpg gas cars mean that by 2030 fuel consumption will be down 20 percent compared to today.

Before you breath a sigh of relief for global warming, consider what’s happening in China. The New York Times today reports that the rapid rise of personal automobiles in Beijing is leaving that city in perpetual gridlock. A few facts:

  • Two-thousand new cars join Beijing streets every day. That’s more than 700,000 new vehicles this year—up from 550,000 new vehicles last year, and 376,000 the year before that.
  • The pace continues to accelerate. The website auto.sohu said Beijingers bought 95,100 vehicles in November, a record and a third more than the previous month.
  • In a June survey, I.B.M. rated Beijing as tied with the Mexico City as the worst traffic in the world.
  • The China Association of Automobile Manufacturers reports that car purchases throughout China were up 34 percent compared to 2009—which was up 46 percent from 2008.

Rush hour traffic in Beijing dropped nearly 4 percent in one year, to a current average of 15 miles an hour. By 2015, the rate of cars during rush hour traffic is expected to drop to 9 miles an hour—roughly the speed of bicycles, the obviously much greener form of transportation that Chinese consumers have abandoned in favor of private automobiles.


  • Anonymous

    So in just 5 years, we could cut our gas consumption by 8% by using more Ethanol, Hybrids. If the CNG is promoted, it could cut the fuel consumption more drastically, since its available locally and is very cheap. 5 countries in the World already have million + NGVs.

    Also all the Taxis can go Hybrid.

  • Anonymous

    Current nationwide gas price is $3.02 / gallon and the Oil price is $91/barrel.

    If US consumes 20 million b/d, then China could consume 90 million b/d since their population is 4 1/2 times more. Expect oil prices to shoot past $100/barrel when Spring starts. Better to start cutting down the consumption now itself.

  • MrEnergyCzar

    I made some videos to help people prepare for Peak Oil and cut their energy usage. I attached one here….

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PUCl1TruUfo

    MrEnergyCzar

  • Max Reid

    Hi MrEnergyCzar

    I saw the youtube program and its very interesting. I have a question in general. A powerplant converts only 1/3 of the heat into electricity and wasting the other 2/3. Thats the reason most homes & offices which have access to gas pipeline use gas for heating, cooking and even drying.

    So does it make sense for many people to use gas stoves for cooking, heating and also other miscellanious activities like toasting bread, making rice, etc in a stove instead of using an electric toaster or electric rice cooker.

    Whats your opinion.

    Also read this article. How a big Hotel in London is using CHP to cut down the cost and pollution.
    http://www.theecologist.org/how_to_make_a_difference/climate_change_and_energy/626664/londons_savoy_hotel_gets_five_stars_for_eco_refit.html

  • Anonymous

    There is a + side and a – side of China.

    + side : China’s mass production of solar panels have brought a 50% decrease is the solar panel cost in the last 2 years and this has brought nearly 3 fold increase in worldwide solar installation.
    In the same way, they are also offering low cost wind turbines and nuclear reactors and this will give a big boost to Renewables and Nuclear.

    - side : China’s auto revolution has incresed the oil prices to $90 + / barrel and now their import of Coal is increasing the coal price.

    So pretty soon, we can see a big increase in Renewables and Nuclear while the Coal and Oil stays the same.

  • Anonymous

    1. I think sales of trucks and SUV in the U.S. jumped significantly in 2010. Will it continue? What’s its long term effect on the U.S. gas consumption?

    2. Aren’t many such ‘predictions’ just dead wrong? I think there’re predictions of ‘electric’ cars in the 90s, oil price thru’ the roof $200, $300 a barrel in 2008. A few years ago, green alternate energy investment are all the rage, now, barely anyone would mention it anymore.

    3. Beijing just announced administrative measures to ‘ensure’ there’ll be no more than 240,000 new vehicles added next year. As car population increases and cities fall victim to car ‘invasion’, such measures may also appear in other cities in the future.

  • Anonymous

    Its the sales of Crossovers (CUVs) that increased in Year 2010 and not the Truck based SUVs. A Honda CRV with a V4 engine is not the same as Tahoe with V8 engine.

    Infact wagon type vehicles HHR, PT Cruiser, Juke are also considered as CUVs just because they are few inches taller. Soon the difference between Hatches, Wagons, CUVs will disappear and such smaller vehicles with large trunk space and a higher mileage will take the place of bigger Sedans & SUVs.

    Pickup sales increased since business has some pickup. Again the sales of vans like Transit Connect and Nissan NV may eat into the sales of Pickups soon.

    As for the EVs, it failed in 1990′s because of maturing technology and low gas prices. Now with Lithium batteries and higher gas prices, they will sell in the form of Plugins. Already Volt & Leaf are on sale.

    Gas prices already stand at $3.04 / gallon. It will surely cross $3.30 /gallon when summer arrives.

    http://fuelgaugereport.aaa.com/?redirectto=http://fuelgaugereport.opisnet.com/index.asp

    Beijing may restrict vehicles, but people may then move to suburbs or other cities. Dont expect Chinese to stop driving.

  • Anonymous

    CUV = greenwash version of SUV. it’s not that much better. dont’ let the name game fool you.

  • Anonymous

    It all depends on the mileage. Certainly the mileage of an average CUV is more than that of an average SUV. Now with gas prices expected to be $3+ in the Year 2011, expect the smaller CUV’s & Hybrids to be the best seller.

    Also expect people to buy more hatch/wagons.

  • Anonymous

    “Beijing may restrict vehicles, but people may then move to suburbs or other cities. Dont expect Chinese to stop driving.”

    Sigh. May be you’re not familiar to the rest of the world, i.e. the ‘World’ outside N. America. Whatever happens around you may not apply around the world. According to one online report I read:

    “Cars not licensed in Beijing will be barred from entering the main city area during rush hours on work days.”

  • Anonymous

    Anonymous said:
    “Certainly the mileage of an average CUV is more than that of an average SUV.”

    that’s part of the name game… the average mpg by cuv is better just by encompassing wider array of vehicles, including the smaller ones. this would skew the category average. it’s the image game.

    a much better comparison is to compare identical models before and after the suv/cuv name change. i suspect most are not that much different in fuel economy.

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  • tapra1

    drop to 9 miles an hour—roughly the speed of bicycles, the obviously much greener form of transportation that Chinese consumers have abandoned in favor of private automobiles. Mobile News

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