CHARTS: You Will Spend $22,000 on Gas Over Your Car’s Lifespan

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As a country, the US is the biggest crude oil consumer in the world, spending $1.5 billion on the stuff every day.

About 40 percent of the money Americans spend on gas goes to private and publicly traded oil companies, a new analysis from the Union of Concerned Scientists found. Here’s where the rest of it ends up:

pie chart

Interestingly, the gas station makes only 81 cents of the $40. The bottled water sold in gas stations can be far more profitable per dollar than the gas.

The report also takes a close look at how much gas costs over the lifetime of fuel-efficient and less fuel-efficient vehicles. The average American who bought a car in 2011 and drives it for 15 years will spend more than $22,000 on gasoline over the lifespan of the car. This assumes that the car gets a fine-but-not-great 22.8 miles per gallon, and that the driver drives around 15,000 miles the first year they own it then a little less each year after that as the car gets older. All told, the gas costs will add up to almost as much as the car itself:

Bar chart

Though hybrids cost more initially, the analysis found that they do save enough money on fuel in the long run to be worth the extra price. The report compares the cost and fuel savings of a hybrid Ford Fusion to an average, non-hybrid car. The Fusion costs $3,500 more up front but saves $8,800 in gas costs over the lifetime of the car:

the cost of buying and fueling a car

According to the report, better gas mileage standards could play a big part in curbing our spending on oil. A study by the same group found that the federal fuel efficiency standards currently in place, which will nearly double the fuel economy of the average car by 2025, will save consumers $50 billion by 2030 though better fuel efficiency on new cars sold between 2017 and 2025.


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