'Superusers:' 10% of Drivers Use a Third of US Gas

Study suggests these people could make the most impact in the switch to electric vehicles
By Gina Carey,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 20, 2024 4:55 PM CST
On Gas vs. Electric Cars, New Focus Is on 'Superusers'
An electric sports-utility vehicle is charged while on display on the showroom floor at a Volkswagen dealership.   (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

Incentivizing a fraction of drivers to switch to electric vehicles would have the most impact, a new study by environmental advocacy group Coltura says. These drivers, called gasoline superusers by the group, make up only one in 10 people on the road, but they burn through about a third of the gasoline used in the US, according to Green Car Reports. They also use more than three times as much gas as the average motorist (1,260 vs. 354 gallons per year) and drive three times as far (roughly 40,000 miles vs. 13,000). Shifting government EV incentives to subsidize these approximately 21 million drivers would not only cut down on greenhouse gases, but save the superusers a lot of money on gas, the study suggests. Two examples of note:

  • Coltura found that if 9 million super-drivers in California switched to EVs, 50% of emissions would be cut in the state—compared to 24 million non-superusers.
  • About 40% of residents in Weymouth Township in New Jersey qualify as superusers because they drive more than 50 miles to Philadelphia for work. Targeting pockets of the population like this could pay off, says the study, per the New York Times.
"States have usually focused on the number of electric cars sold as a metric of success," Coltura's Janelle London tells the Times. "But the health and economic and climate benefits come from reducing gasoline use. That's what we should be focused on." One hiccup: Gas-powered cars can cost up to six times more to fuel than EVs, but finding charging stations is indeed a concern. A report from the Alliance for Automotive Innovation found that the availability of public charging stations hasn't caught up with the amount of EV sales in the US. (A new rule means fewer EV models will receive tax credits, at least temporarily.)

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