Last week I was working in the greater London area.Â Much like New York City, if you’re staying and working in the city, mass transit is the way to go.Â However, last week I was staying and working near Heathrow, which qualifies as suburbia.Â While there are buses, it’s nowhere near as efficient and practical as the Tube (or Subway) in the city.
So I rented a car.Â I was astonished at the gas mileage.Â As you can see from the photo – taken when I returned the car to AVIS after a week – I used 5/16 of a tank of gas and got 222 miles.Â That would mean roughly 800 miles to a tank!!!Â Why is it that I have the same car back home in the USA, and I’m lucky if I squeeze out 370 miles before running out of gas?Â And I only get those numbers with cruise controlled highway driving.Â The UK mileage was a combination of suburban roads, highway and city driving.
I suppose the key was the fact that it was a diesel engine.Â Many places in the USA don’t allow the purchase / registration of diesel powered vehicles due to emissions and health concerns; however, with new catalytic converters, diesel particulate exhaust is drastically reduced… even negligible, compared with gasoline engine exhaust.Â We’d be better off overhauling those nasty school buses if we really want to improve air quality.
Then again, what do I know about anything.Â After all, I’m sure the petroleum industry wouldn’t want us Americans to be mass consumers of gasoline, right?Â I mean, if we all got 2.5 times more miles out of our cars, that wouldn’t be a good thing, right?
I think the proliferation of diesel powered cars in Europe stems from the cost of fuel over there.Â For example, in the UK, fuel is sold by the liter.Â Diesel was Â£1.09 a liter.Â So at 3.8 liters to the gallon, that would be Â£4.14 to the gallon, and with the exchange rate Â£1=$1.59, that’s USD $6.58/Gallon.Â No wonder they have more efficient cars than we do.