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Can higher gas prices actually effect consumer behavior? In many European countries, gas prices are double what we are paying in the U.S.  These countries are the closest models we have to compare to see if gas prices were high, if we would lower gasoline consumption and alter our automotive selection for smaller more gas efficient vehicles.

Due to high taxes, Europeans have been paying much more for gas for a very long time. Europeans do live differently when it comes to purchasing and owning cars.  They are more likely to take public transportation and live in urban areas compared to Americans. European cities are filled with mopeds and smaller more gas efficient vehicles instead of gas guzzling SUVs. According to a recent study by the Paris based IEA, the average light car in the U.S. gets about 21.6 MPG while the average light car in Europe gets about 32.1 MPG. The graph above also shows that in Europe, cars have better MPG on the road than in America. With higher gas prices, Americans may possibly make these changes to rely less on a car.

Unfortunately, there are also differences that individual drivers may not be able to change. Many suburbs were built around cities and with the car in mind for transportation, while many European cities were built with denser centers where people could easily commute without a car. Another issue is that many U.S. cities were built with poor public transportation systems. These are the obstacles we face.  Change takes time, but higher gas prices may push Americans to a similar car culture as Europe where people save money on gas by making smarter choices for their cars.

Original post by Earthgarage – Greener Car. Fatter Wallet.