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Thursday, May 9, 2024

Study Reveals Rural Drivers' Significant Impact on US Gasoline Consumption Due to Heavier Dependence

Rural drivers face steeper financial burden of gasoline dependence; would see major economic relief by switching to EVs

SEATTLE, WA—A groundbreaking study from Coltura, “Country Crossroads: Rural Drivers’ Gasoline Use and Benefits of Switching to EVs,” sheds light on the major disparity in gasoline consumption between rural and non-rural drivers in the United States. The report unveils compelling data on the driving habits and economic implications of high-mileage rural driving with resolution down to the county level.

Key findings from the study include:

  1. Rural Impact on Gasoline Consumption: Despite being only 18.8% of all drivers in the US, rural drivers consume a staggering 25.6% of all light-duty vehicle (LDV) gasoline.
  2. Superusers are Disproportionately Rural: A significant 35.8% of Superusers, defined as the top 10% of gasoline consumers across the US, reside in rural areas. These "rural Superusers" make up merely 3.6% of all US LDV drivers but account for 12.9% of all US gasoline consumption for such vehicles.
  3. Economic Impact: Rural drivers spend a significant portion of their household income on gasoline— allocating on average 8.9% of their household income to gasoline, compared to 5.1% for non-rural drivers.
  4. Disproportionate Burden on Low-Income Rural Superusers: 48.2% of rural Superusers earn less than the US median household income of $74,580, with 6.2% earning below $20,000 a year. On average, rural Superusers earning below the US median household income spend 25.5% of their household income on gasoline, compared to 22.4% for non-rural Superusers.
  5. Rural Superusers Would Save Majorly by Switching to EVs: A rural Superuser would save on average nearly $4,000 a year on fuel (gasoline savings minus electricity costs) by switching to an EV.
  6. Securing the Biggest Climate Benefits from EVs: If all rural Superusers were to switch to EVs, 12.5 billion gallons of gasoline, and 76 MMT of carbon would be avoided each year – more than the carbon emissions from all US shipping to other countries (68 MMT annually).

“The stark realities of gasoline dependence in the rural US stress the urgent need for targeted policies and initiatives to address the disproportionate economic burden faced by rural communities,” said Rob Sargent, Policy Director at Coltura. “State governments should prioritize EV outreach, education, and incentive programs in rural areas. This approach will help low-income rural households reduce monthly expenses, slash tailpipe pollution, and steer EVs to where they can provide the greatest economic and environmental benefit. ”

"This rigorous research from Coltura confirms the critical role electric vehicles can play in helping to reduce the gasoline burdens and climate-warming emissions of rural drivers," said Josh Ewing, Director of the Rural Climate Partnership. "We know drivers in our nation's countryside cover many more miles than their urban counterparts, and they are interested in EVs. However, they have little access to do a test drive or even see one of these game-changing vehicles."

Read the full report here. For more information, please contact Courtney at media@coltura.org.

Study Reveals Rural Drivers’ Significant Impact on US Gasoline Consumption Due to Heavier Dependence
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