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Fuel-Efficiency of Travel in the 20th Century

by David S. Lawyer mailto:dave@lafn.org More on transportation energy by David Lawyer

Minor changes June 2007, June 2008 (original June 2002) COPYRIGHT: (c) 2002-7 by David S. Lawyer. Feel free to make copies but commercial use of this work is prohibited. For example, you can't (except to an insignificant degree) combine it with advertising on the Internet. Please let me know of any errors or suggestions for improvement.
This is a history of the energy-efficiency (or conversely, energy-intensity) of passenger transportation during the 20th century. During that century, the fuel-efficiency of travel in the U.S. increased about 5-fold but but fuel consumption for travel increased 40 times due to more people and more travel. This article traces the changes in energy-efficiency and fuel consumption across the 20th century and shows why increasing energy efficiency doesn't always save energy. Using government statistics, estimates are made for energy efficiency in 1900 (likely never before attempted). How all this was done and more as well as a long list of references and summaries of data from them, is documented in the large Appendix-Notes. Some comparisons are made with the situation in Europe and Japan.

1. The United States of America

2. Europe and Japan

3. Appendix-Notes


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