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Corrections: Average Fuel Consumption in Europe Half 47% Better Than US

A study completed earlier this year by the French environment and energy agency Ademe and the World Energy Council indicates that over nearly 30 years, the average fuel consumption of European cars has dropped by more than 20% to around 6.5 l/100km, or 43 mpg. By contrast, average fuel economy of new cars in the US is now 21 29.3 mpg. (See update below.)

France itself appears to be the European fuel economy leader, with the average consumption of new cars on sale in France now at 46 mpg.

Contributing factors are the ongoing shift to diesel, the improved efficiency of the vehicles, public policies maintaining high fuel prices to discourage consumption, and a strong focus on public transportation.

Update: I may have been too hasty with my earlier calculations. If the Ademe figures refer just to cars (as John asks below...and which I'm trying to confirm one way or the other), then the picture is slightly different.

According to The National Highway Safety Traffic Safety Administration, while the CAFE standard for 2004 passenger cars was 27.5 mpg, the actual composition of the models in the US passenger car fleet yielded an average 29.3 mpg. The average fuel economy of the entire 2004 model year fleet (cars and light duty trucks and SUVs) was 24.7 mpg.

Using that as a baseline, then the fuel economy of the average US new car  is 32% worse than that of Europe.  Or, to put it the other way, European passenger car fuel economy is 47% better than that of the US.


John Norris

Sounds like this is just cars? Or does it include SUV's (sadly making inroads here in Europe)?
-- John


Hmm, I read it as being the light duty fleet, but now that you raise the question, I’m not absolutely sure. I’ll try to get an answer, and in the meantime, I’ll modify the post above.


The study above does factor in the entire composition of the fleet—on a weighted basis to “car-equivalents.” From the World Energy Council:

To understand how much of the variation in unit consumption can be attributed to structural changes in the composition of the stock of vehicles, a better indicator of energy efficiency is the unit consumption per equivalent car. This relates the total consumption of motor fuels to a fictive stock of vehicles, measured in terms of a number of equivalent cars.

The conversion of the actual stock of vehicles to the stock of equivalent cars is based on coefficients reflecting the average yearly consumption of each type of vehicle relative to that of cars. If a motorcycle consumes on average 0.2 toe/year and a car 1 toe/year, one motorcycle is considered equal to 0.2 equivalent cars. These coefficients can be derived from surveys (or estimates) of distances travelled and specific consumption (litres/100 km).

Andrew Oakley

Are you sure both the US and European figures are using the same kind of gallons? I'm suspicious that the American MPG figure is in American gallons and the European MPG figure is in Imperial (English) gallons. That would give a 20% advantage to the European figures. I mean, surely your cars can't be that crappy?

1 Imperial (English) gallon = 1.2 US gallons

(Gallons are not used in England anymore, we use litres; gallons are a remnant of the Imperial/colonial age. Can't imagine why you call them "English". We haven't used gallons since the 1960s.)

what a great infomation you have... thank you very much

mary ann maritan

what a great information... hahaha


Please check your math. 6.5 l/100km is about 36 miles/gal(us), not 43 mpg as stated above. Yes, that is still much better than in the US, but not as good as you numbers show.


There are so few cars and SUV's in the US that average 29 MPG, that figure cannot be correct. On CNN recently a reported had a computer hooked to his Yukon and it determined that on his trip to work he got 4.9 mpg!!!


I agree that - as snowak pointed out - 6.5l/100km should be 36.2mpg. But, if you look at the numbers the EPA publishes, the average mpg for all light duty vehicles (cars, minivans, sport utility vehicles, and pickup trucks) is said to be around 20-21mpg for some years now ( That would support the first number used in this article.
Either way - statement from another article on this site: "that level of fuel economy is grossly inadequate, given the geopolitical, geological and environmental constraints and issues we face today".

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