How to Reduce Gasoline Consumption by Targeting ‘Superusers’

Gasoline is one of the major sources of greenhouse gas emissions in the US, contributing to climate change and air pollution. However, not all drivers use the same amount of gas. A new study by environmental advocacy group Coltura reveals that there is a small group of drivers who consume a disproportionate share of gasoline and could be the key to reducing gas consumption and emissions.

According to Coltura, gasoline superusers are drivers who use more than 1,000 gallons of gas per year, which is about three times the national average. They make up only 10% of the drivers on the road, but they account for 32% of the gasoline used in the US. They also drive about three times as far as the average driver, covering around 40,000 miles per year.

How to Reduce Gasoline Consumption by Targeting ‘Superusers’
How to Reduce Gasoline Consumption by Targeting ‘Superusers’

The study identifies some of the characteristics of superusers, such as:

  • They tend to live in rural or suburban areas, where public transportation and electric vehicle charging infrastructure are less available.
  • They often drive large vehicles, such as pickup trucks, SUVs, or vans, which have lower fuel efficiency and higher emissions than smaller cars.
  • They may have long commutes, multiple jobs, or other reasons that require them to drive frequently and for long distances.

Why Target Superusers?

Coltura argues that targeting superusers for switching to electric vehicles (EVs) would have the most impact on reducing gasoline consumption and emissions, compared to other drivers. The study estimates that if 15 million superusers switched to EVs by 2030, it would save 15.4 billion gallons of gas per year, equivalent to 140 million metric tons of carbon dioxide. This would also save superusers $58 billion per year on fuel costs, as EVs are cheaper to operate than gas vehicles.

The study also compares the potential benefits of targeting superusers versus non-superusers in different states. For example, in California, converting 9 million superusers to EVs would reduce gas consumption by 50%, while converting 24 million non-superusers would only reduce it by 28%. In New Jersey, converting 40% of the superusers in Weymouth Township, who drive more than 50 miles to Philadelphia for work, would save 1.8 million gallons of gas per year.

How to Incentivize Superusers?

The study suggests that government policies and incentives should focus on encouraging superusers to switch to EVs, rather than on increasing the overall number of EVs sold. Some of the possible ways to do this are:

  • Providing subsidies, tax credits, or rebates for superusers who buy or lease EVs, based on their gas consumption and driving habits.
  • Expanding the availability and accessibility of EV charging stations, especially in rural and suburban areas, along highways, and at workplaces.
  • Educating superusers about the environmental and economic benefits of EVs, as well as the performance and convenience advantages.
  • Creating social norms and peer pressure among superusers to adopt EVs, such as by showcasing successful examples, creating online communities, or organizing events.

The study concludes that targeting superusers is a more effective and efficient strategy to reduce gas consumption and emissions than targeting the general population of drivers. By focusing on this small but influential group of drivers, Coltura hopes to accelerate the transition to a cleaner and greener transportation system.

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