NEW REPORT: Data reveals why gasoline consumption not declining fast enough, need to target “Gasoline Superusers”January 16, 2024
Coltura Launches Groundbreaking National Report on Gasoline Superusers
This month, Coltura launched our “Cracking the Gasoline Code” report— the first-ever analysis that looks at US gasoline consumption data at a granular level. The analysis received prominent features in the media, including articles in The New York Times, Forbes, Axios, CleanTechnica, Streetsblog and many others. Read the full report here.
The report features new and key insights into gasoline use across the country, which can help policymakers better craft EV policies for maximum climate pollution reduction and cost saving impact, including that:
- The top 10% of US light-duty vehicle drivers in terms of their gasoline use (“Gasoline Superusers”) consume 35% of the gasoline. On average, Superusers consume five times more gasoline than other drivers.
- Superusers are paying on average $530 every month in gasoline – on average more than 10% of their income – compared to 3.5% for other drivers.
- 57.7% of Superusers (12.1 million) live in rural and small-town America and 9% (1.9 million) live in major cities.
- If all Superusers made the switch to EVs, US carbon emissions would fall by 243 million metric tons annually – more than all aviation emissions (202 million metric tons).
“States have usually focused on the number of electric cars sold as a metric of success. But the health and economic and climate benefits come from reducing gasoline use. That’s what we should be focused on,” said Coltura Co-Executive Director Janelle London. –New York Times
“Forget well-off, early adopter, work-from-home suburbanites with their subsidized EVs, solar panels, and battery walls. This is not about them.” –Forbes
“America should ditch its “one-size-fits-all” approach to encouraging EV adoption and focus on getting the highest-mileage drivers to go electric.” –Streetsblog
Cash for Clunkers: Are We Really Targeting the Vehicles that Pollute the Most?
While some states provide incentives for drivers to retire the vehicles that are “most polluting” or “highest emitting,” the terminology is deceptive. “Most polluting” typically means most potentially polluting. Older vehicles, generally speaking, when driven emit more pollutants than new vehicles. The problem is that this definition includes vehicles that are barely driven, and thus not actually very polluting. A 1999 Chevy Blazer sitting in the driveway most of the year is not polluting much. It’s not a great use of government funds to incentivize the driver to scrap it. But that same vehicle doing 30,000 miles a year? Now that’s polluting.
What’s the solution? Policymakers should be targeting the most actually polluting vehicles – the vehicles that are both the most potentially polluting and that are driven the most. Applicants for the incentive could easily prove their vehicle is actually a high polluter by providing their vehicle registration (which lists the odometer reading when they acquired the vehicle) and their current odometer reading.
It’s simple – the more a vehicle is driven, the more it actually pollutes. Getting the best value for taxpayer money and for public health requires that “scrap and replace” policies distinguish between potentially and actually polluting vehicles.
New Automotive Launches Report on UK Gasoline Superusers
Coltura’s UK-based partner New Automotive released a new report “Switch First, Save Fast,” finding that in the UK 5% of drivers account for 18% of miles traveled, costs and emissions (more than the bottom 40%) and 10% of drivers account for close to 29% of miles, costs and emissions (more than the bottom 55%). To shift high-mileage drivers to EVs, the report recommends policies including Zero Emissions Vehicle (ZEV) credits, information campaigns, vouchers, rebates, zero interest loans, social leasing, and targeted programs.
State Climate Plans Target Superusers
Maryland’s Climate Pollution Reduction Plan, the first statewide plan that aims to cut emissions by 60% by 2031, includes a “Superuser Bonus Program.” This initiative aims to incentivize residents, businesses and organizations with extensive commutes and above-average fuel consumption to switch from gasoline vehicles to electric ones. Superusers, who make up 10% of Maryland drivers, switching to electric vehicles could slash on-road gasoline emissions by over 30%.
In addition, Washington state, as part of their Transportation Electrification Strategy, is proposing on-road diesel and gasoline usage targets plus a number of options to help the highest-gasoline use drivers go electric, in part thanks to Coltura’s advocacy work to compel the state to prioritize Superusers.
Governor Wes Moore test drives an electric vehicle. The state is requiring manufacturers to continuously increase the share of electric vehicles they sell, reaching 100% of passenger car and light truck sales by model year 2035.
Credit: Office of Maryland Governor
With Major Federal Funds Incoming, Policy Recommendations Urge States to Target Superusers
The Inflation Reduction Act’s Climate Pollution Reduction Grants (CPRG) program gives the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) $5 billion to grant out to states, air pollution control agencies, Tribes, and local governments to carry out robust strategies to reduce climate pollution. In a recent set of policy recommendations sent out to states, RMI suggests that states should strongly consider utilizing CPRG funds for initiatives that specifically target and financially support Gasoline Superusers in transitioning to electric vehicles, in line with Coltura’s advocacy.
“In addition to the equity and emissions impact, superuser programs excel in the CPRG’s [application criteria]. Because [applicants] will need to calculate the average annual gallons of gasoline used by each applicant during the eligibility assessment, reporting on emissions reductions will be incredibly straightforward,” RMI writes in the memo.
States have until March 1st this year to submit their first round of CPRG applications. Learn more about the program and application process here.
How the strength of CPRG applications will be assessed, according to the EPA.
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Coltura Data Tool of the Month: Gasoline Consumption Map
Coltura’s nationwide gasoline consumption map displays first-of-its-kind gasoline consumption data by geographic area, such as:
- Percent and number of “Superusers” (those drivers in the top 10% for gasoline use)
- Comparisons of Superusers and non-Superusers:
- Average annual gallons of gasoline
- Percent of income spent on gasoline
- Fuel savings from switching to EVs
- Average vehicle miles per gallon
- Average extra electricity from switching to an EV
The map shows state-level data for all states, as well as a demo of data at the county, census tract and census block group levels for the state of Arkansas. To see state-level data for your state, visit the map and click the “State” button under ‘Detail Level”. For more detailed data for your state, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
We Met Our Match: Thanks for your Critical Role in Reducing Vehicle Emissions
People like you, concerned about the health of our planet for future generations, are looking for ways to make a measurable difference. That’s what Coltura is all about. We are determined to cut vehicle emissions by cutting gasoline use faster, more efficiently and more equitably. Our Gasoline Superuser data and insights are gaining traction, with multiple states in various stages of implementing the Superuser approach.
We are deeply grateful to each and every one of our donors. Because of you, we met our Fall Matching Challenge, raising a total of $70,000. Thank you.
And we still need you. All of you. Every dollar counts. There is much more to do, from refining and improving the data to building coalitions in multiple states to enact Superuser focused policy. We are at a critical moment in the future of the beautiful planet we call home, and gasoline is a major source of carbon emissions. We invite you to please start giving/keep giving as generously as you can, to make a measurable difference for clean air and a livable planet.
Gasoline Disaster of the Month: Fire at Chevron in Ceres, CA
A fire at a Chevron gas station in central California serves as a stark reminder of the inherent dangers associated with gasoline. As an RV erupted in flames while refueling, two people sustained injuries, highlighting the potential life-threatening consequences of gasoline-fueled fires. The incident not only inflicted harm on the victims but also resulted in damage to the gas pump and overhead hangar, potentially releasing toxins and presenting additional dangers to the nearby area.
Culture Corner: The “Neighborhood Effect” How your EV Influences Those Around You to Switch, Too
A recent report from Generation180 highlights strong findings that people are more likely to consider buying an EV if their neighbors own one. The analysis of new EV registrations over the last five years reveals concentrated EV ownership in specific areas, indicating a significant “neighborhood effect” on adoption. The report offers important strategic tactics aimed at leveraging peer influence at a time state governments, EV advocates, and the auto industry look to promote the uptake of electric vehicles with generous financial incentives available over the coming decade through the Inflation Reduction Act.