Average fuel economy, by state?

Based on EPA numbers and vehicle registrations?

I have long wondered if the “green” states (define them however you wish) had higher average fuel economy than non-green states. Does anyone know where to find this type of information? I have tried my google-jitsu, but it is weak.


There are several different things you might be looking for – not that I have the answer to either. Do you want the average fuel-economy of cars owned by city or metropolitan area people? Do you want the realized fuel economy – New York City for example will score lower on this relative to Omaha since there are many more traffic jams I’d assume. Do you count in your reckoning that some cities have much better public transportation than others so even if the cars are more fuel efficient, the residents are?

A better metric would probably be total energy consumption per capita.

I was wondering about the basic fuel economy as rated by the window sticker on new cars for all cars registered in each state. I think it would show some surprising differences. For example, most electric vehicles are sold in five states. The very high MPG ratings for those vehicles would boost the state average MPG for California, while probably offering no difference in Georgia.

What five states?? Are California, Florida, New York, Ohio on the list??

I don’t think you’ll be able to find what you’re looking for, since it appears that only a private research firm complies vehicle registrations by state. However, one thing we can get at is the average MPG of the entire state in terms of actual miles traveled. Here’s the two relevant charts on the US DOT highway statistics site:

Miles Traveled

Motor Fuel Use

So for example Californians bought 17,043,000,000 gallons of on-road motor fuel and traveled 320,784,000,000 miles, yielding a respectable 18 MPG. Texans bought 16,130,033,000 gallons but only traveled 237,440,000,000 miles, yielding only around 14. If anyone wanted to get ambitious with Excel I’m sure you could do all 50.

Of course, that doesn’t necessarily correspond to the average fuel economy of the passenger vehicle fleets in those states. It could be that the proportion of commercial vs. private miles traveled or stop-and-go vs. rural and such makes more of a difference. YMMV. :slight_smile:

Here is the list I was thinking of, and it actually discusses cities, not states.

That is a good start, but would ignore the benefits of cars that are partially or completely electric. Those car don’t use “motor fuels”. I will see what I can do with the info you linked to.

I think it would actually overstate them then, since presumably they’re counted in the miles traveled total, but not in the fuel purchases. I’m also not entirely sure what the “special fuels” are. I assume it’s mostly diesel, with stuff like CNG, LP, etc also thrown in.

I’m resurrecting this old thread since it’s among the first hits when googling the topic of fuel economy by state.

My interest is to see if states with higher fuel taxes sell higher fuel economy cars.

CA has among the highest fuel taxes in the country, and it also purchases the most EVs per capita. Certainly some of that is attributable to state incentives, but I wonder if the higher price of fuel is also a factor? A comparison of MPG and tax price by state would be very interesting.

The Federal Highway site posted above appears to have good info that might answer my question, but I figured someone in the world would have already thought about this and presented the data to the online community.

I don’t know if the correlation is that cut and dried. States that have higher fuel taxes have them because they have more environmentally conscious voters.

Many people who buy EVs tend to be upper middle class or upper class. Those people can easily afford the extra $1 or so a gallon in fuel taxes (the average American uses about 500 gallons of gasoline a year, so thats $500 a year in extra taxes), they buy EVs because they are environmentally conscious.

EVs aren’t affordable to the working class or poor yet. Right now the only people who can afford them are the kinds of people who can easily spend $500 a year in fuel taxes.

A better comparison would be % of cars that are high fuel economy models (subcompacts for example) in CA vs a state like TX

The OP also ignores the effect of weather on this.
Northern states would tend to have lower number because of this. Driving on snowy/icy roads uses up more fuel, and many hybred cars get poore gas mileage in cold weather. (For example, the shutting off the gas engine at stop lights feature is shut off during cold weather – that can be 1/3rd of the year here in Minnesota.)

The mileage figures on the Monroney sticker are derived using 100% gasoline in the testing process. In Maine, there are just a handful of places to get 100% gasoline, mostly marinas and airports. The vast majority of gas stations here only carry E10 ethanol, which has less energy than gasoline, so the government’s mpg claims on the window sticker are rarely met. Not having real gasoline available lowers the state’s average mpg.

The cold weather causing more gas use has been mentioned above, but there is also a switch to winter blended gasoline every fall, which the EPA says contains 1.7% less energy than summer blended gasoline. It would seem that winter blended ethanol would be even worse.

Don’t forget that the auto companies concentrate their marketing of electric cars to urban areas (and mostly in California where regulations are stricter than the rest of the U.S.) Here in flyover country, we’re more concerned about range and the availability of charging stations than air quality.

Sure, we have a Tesla dealership here; I even knows someone who owns one. But I have never, ever seen a local car dealer advertise their electric cars. Maybe once or twice in their ordinary Sunday ads when they might have mentioned “It’s here” but absolutely never on TV.

It may be meaningless to describe this on a state basis, depending on the size of the state and the traffic patterns.

On a county level it can get downright nutty. My county is known for an extraordinarily high per-capita auto emission level. The reason is that my county is rural and has low population density, but a major interstate highway runs across it. Fully 85% of the vehicle miles driven in my county are driven by people who start and end their trips outside my county and do not live here. If ALL of us residents stopped driving our emissions would still be 85% as high. Fortunately the idea of forced carpooling didn’t fly.