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California Gasoline Consumption Declining

California consumed 4.5% less gasoline, including aviation gas, in January 2008 than in January 2007, according to figures released by the State Board of Equalization (BOE). The BOE is able to monitor gallons through tax receipts paid by fuel distributors.

California gasoline consumption. Click to enlarge.

Total gallons of gasoline used in January 2008 were 1.234 billion—58.2 million less than in January 2007. For all of 2007, Californians used 0.97% less gasoline compared to the previous year. Californians used a total of 15.672 billion gallons of gasoline for the twelve months of 2007—a decline of 153 million gallons from the total of 15.825 billion gallons for the calendar year 2006. Gasoline consumption in the state has now fallen for two years in a row.

The January 2008 pump price averaged $3.30 per gallon, 68 cents above those seen in January 2007 of $2.62.

Despite the drop in gallons consumed, the BOE estimates that sales tax revenue has increased due to higher gasoline prices. Higher prices generated approximately $299 million in sales tax during January 2008. In contrast, January 2007’s gasoline sales generated $249 million.

Figures for February 2008 are scheduled to be available near the end of May.



A 4.5% drop is huge and probably indicated more economic problems than conservation efforts. Though I can say that I've reduced my gasoline use by 20-40%, that's just anecdotal.

I swear, though, that Toyota must sell 1/4 of its Priuses in San Diego county alone. I see a dozen and more per day just commuting to and from work. And some days I see half a dozen scooters.

C Dell

If its not just the economy. This is the first good new in along time. If it goes to $10 a gallon. There will be electric cars on every corner.


Its almost $10 per gallon here in the UK and people are still buying SUVs despite looming higer annual vehicle excise duties. Most of that (i.e. over 60%) is state taxes!!!

Sources reckon we will be paying $3.00 per litre next year ($12.00). But we already pay $2.25 per litre as it is!!! Despite gas increases, there are as many cars as ever on the road because there are no other ways of getting to work for many people. I don't see many Hybrids either because people cannot afford them or anything else for that matter. People are just cutting back on nights out etc.

If or when gas prices reach $10, people will still be in their SUVs - people will simply get used to higher gas. I've had thanks to our government using a green smokescreen to levy car and gas taxes to fill the black hole in their finances.


Interesting gasoline use comparison:

California, 156,000 sq mi, 37 million people, (2006) GDP: $1.7 Trillion - 1.23 billion gallons of gasoline used in January.

Japan, 150,000 sq mi, 128 million people, (2006) GDP: $4.2 Trillion - 1.16 billion gallons of gasoline used in March


So, gasoline goes up more than 20% in price and demand goes down less than 5%. Interesting price/demand function. I assume it is non linear and somewhat elastic. People still need to get to work and back.


I would say viscoelastic. As we get more hybrid, PHEV options there will be change. It just takes time.


What is happening is that sales of smaller cars have started to really zoom since the middle of 2007. That's why Honda's sales of their Civic models have gone way, way up, and expect more companies to sell in the B-segment class of automobiles (expect Honda, Nissan and Toyota to up the production of the Fit, Versa and Yaris models to meet increased demand).

Bill Young

Two thoughts on this news item that are not clear:

Is this the consumption of gasoline before dilution to make gasohol or is this the volume of blend?

If this is the actual volume of gasoline blend sold, what would the consumption have been if it were not cut with alcohol? (Gasoline mixed with alcohol gets lower gas mileage than straight uncut gasoline.)


Bill: if this measuring the gas taxes at the pump, then that's a blend. in california, all blends are up to but no more than 10%. the actual blend percentage varies from station to station (and potentially pump to pump, for that matter)


Good thought Bill, that made me stop and wonder. I guess demand is down and there are a lot of factors to consider. Driving less single person per car miles may be one of those. Leaving that big SUV in the garage may be another. Selling that big SUV and sending it out of state, but dealers don't want them in trade...and on and on.



And Ford increased production of the Focus 30% as well. Big shift in the auto market taking place right now.

Kim Fenske, JD, MST

Hope is in the Hybrid!

Fuel demand can be cut in half if every household with two vehicles operates one small hybrid for commuting, reserving the SUV AWD for the two weekends per year that its owner is on vacation in the back country:

Apr 21, 2008
US hybrid sales up 38 percent in 2007; Prius leads the pack
AP Auto Writer

DETROIT Kim Fenske drives a bus in Colorado by day, but when he's not working, he zooms around the mountains in a 2007 Toyota Prius.

Fenske, an attorney by training who has also worked as a forest ranger, was an environmentalist long before hybrid cars like the Prius hit the market. In the early 1990s, he ran unsuccessfully for the Wisconsin state legislature on a renewable energy platform.

But he recently decided to go one step further and make an environmental statement with his car.

"My decision is a very political decision. I want to get people in this country off their dependency on foreign oil," said Fenske, 48, who lives at the Copper Mountain ski resort near Frisco.

A growing number of buyers feel like Fenske. U.S. registrations of new hybrid vehicles rose 38 percent in 2007 to a record 350,289, according to data to be released Monday by R.L. Polk & Co., a Southfield-based automotive marketing and research company.

Hybrids made up just 2.2 percent of the U.S. market share for the year, but they were growing steadily even as overall sales declined 3 percent.

Lonnie Miller, director of industry analysis at Polk, said rising gas prices may affect some buyers, but they're not the main driver of hybrid sales. Instead, he thinks sales jumped in 2007 because buyers had more options, including the new Nissan Altima, Saturn Aura and Lexus LS600h hybrid sedans and hybrid versions of the Chevrolet Tahoe, GMC Yukon and Mazda Tribute sport utility vehicles.

"The gas price thing is a constant that is keeping consideration in their minds," Miller said.

Another important factor is that hybrids have been on the market long enough for consumers to trust the technology, Miller said. The Prius, the second mass-market hybrid after the Honda Insight, went on sale in the U.S. in 2000.

The Prius remained the best-selling hybrid in 2007, commanding 51 percent of the hybrid market, up from 43 percent in 2006 despite the influx of new hybrids.

Fenske's previous vehicle was a van, which he bought to move his belongings from the Midwest to Colorado. But Miller said most buyers appear to stay within the segment they were in previously when they opt for a new hybrid. For example, more than half of those who bought the Lexus LS600h had a previous vehicle in the luxury segment. Miller said that's why it's important for automakers to have hybrid SUVs, even though some drivers like Fenske argue that big hybrids don't save enough fuel.

"It's a good call on automakers' parts to not make their hybrids so funky and out of body style than what's already out there," Miller said. "People have requirements for what they need."

California remained the top state for hybrid sales in 2007. Twenty-six percent of all hybrid registrations were in California, up 35 percent from 2006. Florida, New York, Texas and Washington followed.

Miller forecasts more of the same this year, despite warnings from automakers that U.S. car sales could be at their slowest pace in more than a decade due to high gas prices and the weak economy. Miller predicts hybrid sales will rise 30 percent or more.
"This segment has still outpaced what the rest of the industry has done. I can't see the hybrid category totally chilling out," Miller said.

Fenske, who closely monitors hybrid discussions groups on Web sites like, hopes more people will do the research and the math he did and buy a hybrid car. He figures he's saving $3,000 per year in maintenance compared to his old vehicle, plus $2,000 to $3,000 per year in fuel costs for his 20-minute commute. He says he gets around 48 miles per gallon.

Fenske said he waited several years to buy a hybrid because he wanted to make sure the technology was proven. Then, he was concerned about how the little car would perform in the mountains. He has had to make some compromises; he can't drive up some rough roads, but he has decided to hike or bike instead. But for the most part, the car has exceeded his expectations.

"Last night, I drove back from a union meeting in the middle of a blizzard and I had no traction problems at all," he said. "I was passing SUVs in the ditch left and right."


Don't even bother owning that SUV.  When you need one, rent.


Well, I did my part by getting a Prius and now commute primarily in that instead of my WRX which my wife does primarily short tips on. Cut our fuel consumption by 25%. Still looking/waiting for the perfect high mpg commuter and then my wife will use the Prius around town. Hopefully cut our fuel consumption by another 15-20%.

And Cervus, if you think there are a lot of Prius here in San Diego, you should visit the Bay Area some time. There are a lot more up there, though it does seem like every other Prius I see in San Diego is new and still has dealer plates.


Like I've been saying, if California is serious about cutting greenhouse gases, they won't try to regulate emissions per mile, they'll hike up the gas tax! They can return the money in a more progressive form (low- to mid-income tax cuts, medical subsidies, etc.), and they don't have to fret one bit about our inept/corrupt Federal government.

If you regulate emissions per mile, people will just drive more miles. We learned that lesson in the 1980s, but nobody cares today.

[q->t to email]


Engineer Poet:

You can...sell your WRX and get another hybrid.


Noz, names are below comments not above them...Dave owns the WRX not Engineer-poet.


The same might hold true on EVs. If you need a gasoline vehicle on the weekends, rent one. Car rentals like weekend renters. If they rent to business and car repair during the week, they would like to rent on weekends too.

Getting someone to give up their perceived freedom and convenience is hard. People buy pickups for the few days a year that they haul something. They buy large SUVs for that one day a month that they take a trip or haul the boat.

They also buy 200 hp engines when they use 20 hp most of the time, but feel that they need that 200 hp now and then and do not want to be caught short. So they haul a 5L cast iron V8 around that gets 14 mpg around town.


Hybrid Lexus = lipstick on a pig


Speaking of hybrid lexus...

They should offer an IS with hybrid. Maybe call it an IS300h and use a variant of the Camry hybrid drivetrain - not sure how they could differentiate the drivetrain from the Camry (as Lexus buyers may expect) but I doubt it would incur a weight penalty greater than the 3.5L V-6 they use in the IS350 and would probably outperform the IS250 in terms of both acceleration and fuel economy.



Don't be surprised that the upcoming 2010 model year Ford Fiesta will be built in the USA, too. Ford is about to announce the second-generation Ford Ka, and that model might make to the USA market, too.


Its mostly the house flippers running out of gas.... litteral'/

In this small area alobe I know of several dozen flippers who have lost everything including multiple hummers... still while shopping yesterday we saw a massive old hummer 1 eumbling out of the parking lot at the safeway...


$$300,000,000.00 in ONE month sales tax. No wonder some want a carbon tax - what'll happen when this sweet gravy train dries up??


Speaking of gas tax, the idea of suspending the 18 cent federal gas tax for the summer seems odd to me. Each person might save $20 and the government would lose $2 billion. I am not sure what that is suppose to do, but in an election year I guess almost anything is possible.

Harvey D


Very interesting stats; Cal vs Japan.

If my maths are correct, one of our false pretension is coming down. i.e. that our gas consumption is high because our per capita GDP is high.

From your stats:

1) Cal. GDP = $1382 per gallon.

2) Japan's GDP = $3621 per gallon.

Note: Japanese produces almost three times more per gallon than Californians and it is not due the the difference in physical land size because they are practically the same.

Who knows the reasons?

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