Americans are likely to spend almost as much on fuel for their cars as the vehicles’ original cost, according to a new report by the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS). And while drivers are pouring money into their fuel tanks, oil company stock is growing less than a penny a year from their own fill-ups.
The study, which examined where the thousands of dollars Americans pay every year to fill up their vehicles goes, found that of the $US50 a driver pays at the pump, an average of $33 will go directly to oil companies.
“You’re basically paying for a second car every 15 years,” says Joshua Goldman, the report’s author and policy analyst for UCS’s Clean Vehicles program. “The only thing really benefiting from your oil use is oil companies’ bottom line.” And benefit they did. Last week, ExxonMobil and Chevron posted near-record 2012 profits of $US44.9 billion and $US26.2 billion, respectively.
And even those drivers who happen to own shares in oil companies don’t see much benefit for their spending either. The study found that an average driver with $20,000 in ExxonMobil stock would see less than a penny of growth in their investment after spending $1,700 to fill up with gas from ExxonMobil over the course of a year.
The good news from the report, however, is that fuel efficient cars can deliver huge returns for drivers. The study found that, for example, a Ford Fusion SE Hybrid – while $3,500 more expensive to buy than its base conventional gas model – consumes $9,000 less in petrol over its lifetime.
UCS says US automakers are now offering drivers more fuel efficient models, a trend that has been boosted by new vehicle standards finalised in 2010 and strengthened last year to nearly double the fuel economy of new models by 2025.
And according to the UCS’s Half the Oil Plan, drivers embracing fuel-efficient technologies would also help create new jobs and put the US on a path toward cutting its projected oil use in half within 20 years.