Is A 250 MPG Car In Your Future?

Read Time: 3 minutes

Imagine a car that gets 250 MPG or its electric equivalent. You might not stop at a gas station or electric hook-up for weeks. A lot of money that goes to oil producers here and abroad would stay in your pocket and the air would be a lot cleaner.

While 250 MPG might sound like a pipe dream, it’s a serious idea, something that could actually happen.

According to the EPA, preliminary figures for 2023 show that the typical new vehicle got 26.9 miles per gallon, more than double the 13.1 MPG we saw in 1975.

But if it took 48 years to double fuel efficiency, why should we expect a 10-fold increase anytime soon?

The growing MPG results we’re now seeing – and the better results soon to come – are a byproduct of the growing number of hybrid and electric vehicles now in use. Once oddities, hybrid, and electric vehicles are increasingly common, a central reason for better overall gas mileage.

Figures from Experian show that in 2023 vehicles powered by gasoline and flex-fuel (ethanol) represented 78.1% of the market, down from 83.9% in 2022. In other words, traditional ICE vehicles (internal combustion engine vehicles) lost 5.8% market share in a year.

Where did those vehicle sales go?

The answer is that hybrid vehicles using both electric fuel and gasoline — and electric vehicles that only plug in — have become markedly more popular.

In 2023 hybrids had a 10.4% market share versus 7.3% in 2022, according to Experian. Electrics saw their market share grow from 5.7% in 2022 to 8.2% in 2023. Overall, 2023 hybrid and electric sales represented 18.6% of new registrations.

Even if all vehicles were electric or hybrid, we would still not see cars, SUVs, and pick-ups getting 200 MPG or more. But we’re getting closer. Tesla, for example, has models that get more than 130 MPGE (miles per gallon equivalent) according to the Energy Department.

That’s terrific by today’s standards, but we’re likely to do even better in the future.

A new study by the Electric Power Research Institute and the National Resources Defense Council estimates that battery-electric vehicles (BEVs) could reach 250 MPGE or better, while internal combustion engine vehicles might top 90 MPG.

This sounds like the kind of numbers that involve a flux capacitor or other mythical technology, but that’s hardly the case.

Instead, says the study, “there are opportunities to improve efficiency of both the propulsion systems in turning energy into motion and the efficiency of the car itself in moving along the road and through the air. Key measures evaluated include reduced weight (without reducing size or safety), reduced aerodynamic drag, reduced tire rolling resistance, more-efficient accessories, improved battery/powertrain efficiency, and higher battery energy density (which provides more range from a lighter and/or smaller battery pack).”

Many people at this point – okay, probably most people – likely think that moving a vehicle several hundred miles with the equivalent of a single gallon of gas is nothing but science fiction. But Tesla is now getting 10 times the mileage that was normal in 1975, and who is to say we can’t do the same with the 26.9 MPG that’s common today?

More than a dozen states are trying to ban the sale of new, gas-only vehicles by 2035, prohibitions that will no doubt be fought in court. Such bans are unnecessary because in ten years many traditional gas-powered vehicles will be off the road.

They will be pushed aside by new generations of electric and hybrid cars with lower prices, fewer maintenance requirements, longer lifespans, better mileage, less “range anxiety,” and reduced environmental impact.

Although some buyers will still prefer a massive Cayonero as described by The Simpsons, vehicles with internal-combustion engines will inevitably be less popular. This will happen as buyers go for lower-cost options that are easier to finance and leave more dollars in household budgets.

Peter G. Miller

Peter G. Miller is a nationally-syndicated columnist, the author of seven books published originally by Harper & Row (including one with a co-author), and has contributed to leading online sites and major print publications. He has appeared on numerous media outlets including the Today Show, Oprah!, CNN, and NPR.

Peter has been an accredited correspondent on Capitol Hill and a member of the White House Correspondents Association. He has served with the District of Columbia National Guard and holds both BA and MS degrees from The American University in Washington, DC. View Peter on LinkedIn.

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