How Much Would A Greener Car Save You Over Thanksgiving Weekend?

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Highway traffic

Highway traffic

Over the coming days, millions of Americans will hit the roads of the U.S. as they make the yearly pilgrimage to be home with their loved ones for Thanksgiving. 

In total, Americans are expected to spend around $553 million at the gas station over the coming days to fuel their Thanksgiving trips, but according to a recent report, consumers could reduce that bill by over $260 million if they drove cars capable of a fuel economy equivalent to 54.5 miles per gallon. 

The report comes courtesy of Environment America, a federation of state-based, citizen-funded environmental advocacy organizations, and highlights how much money could be saved if cars on the market today already met the corporate average fuel economy standards which will come into force in 2025.

Using Thanksgiving traffic prediction data from the American Automobile Association, Environment America was able to work out how many Americans are expected to make trips greater than 50 miles over the Thanksgiving holiday. It then calculated the total predicted fuel bill, assuming the nation’s current average fuel economy of just 26.4 mpg, contrasting it with the predicted fuel bill at an average fuel economy of 54.5 mpg. 

“On Thanksgiving, Americans should be able to travel over the river and through the woods to Thanksgiving dinner, without having to stop at the gas pump,” explained Clean Vehicles Associate for Environment America Jillian Hertzberg. “Cleaner and more fuel efficient cars would cut pollution and keep enough in each family’s wallet this Thanksgiving to bring a few extra pumpkin pies to dinner!  The new clean car standards just proposed by the Obama administration offer an excellent opportunity to bring these benefits to American families.”

For an average family traveling 100 miles by car to reach their Thanksgiving celebrations in a car capable of 26.4 mpg and filled with regular gasoline, the entire 200 mile round trip would cost them $25.30 according to current average gas prices.  Make the same trip in a car capable of 54.5 mpg, and they would pay just $12.25. Make the trip in an all-electric or plug-in electric car, and the costs could be measured in cents rather than dollars. 

But the savings represented by a 54.5 mpg fuel economy average wouldn’t just be reflected in less money spent at the gas pump.  According to the advocacy group, cars that adhered to 2025 corporate fuel economy standards would represent a drop in fuel consumption over the Thanksgiving weekend of 75.3 million gallons. 

It would also lower the carbon footprint of Thanksgiving by a massive 730 metric tons. 

With many families cutting back on all but essential car travel this year, the Thanksgiving trip could be one of the longest trips they make in their car.  And while you might not be able to do anything this year about which car you drive, you can make sure you follow our top tips to ensure that you get the best fuel economy possible

Are you driving somewhere for Thanksgiving? What car are you driving, and which tips do you have to help keep your fuel bills low? Let us know in the Comments below. 


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Comments (5)
  1. While I appreciate the sentiment here. The following statement appears to be reaching.

    "Make the trip in an all-electric or plug-in electric car, and the costs could be measured in cents rather than dollars. "

    Let's run the numbers on the author's Nissan LEAF (which may or may not be able to make the supposed 100 mile trip).
    200 miles
    34 KWH/100 miles
    0.34 KWH/mile
    68 KWH
    0.16 $/KWH

    So really not that much less expensive than the 54.5 MPG ICE car. Cleaner, and cooler, yes, cents compared to dollars, no.

    High efficiency ICE cars may be the biggest threat to EV adoption.

  2. John,

    You're quite right -- Of course, it depends on how economically you drive. If you take the EPA rating for cars like the 2012 Nissan Leaf, and you pay a higher rate for your electricity, it will cost you.

    Pay for the electricity on a night-rate or special EV tariff, and you may find it cheaper.

    Thanks for the feedback. It's really appreciated.

  3. Thanks for the thoughtful consideration.

  4. What would the halving of taxes collected do to already stressed govts? Gas would have to go up to recover lost revenue.

  5. Well, not wanting to get into the "high MPG car vs electric car" discussion, I'll just answer the question: "Are you driving somewhere for Thanksgiving? What car are you driving, and which tips do you have to help keep your fuel bills low? Let us know in the Comments below."

    We will not be driving this year. My girlfriend and I usually get in our gas car for the 2-1/2 mile drive to her parents home. This year, we are going to walk!
    Yup, walk! On know, those cement things next to roads. This should be good for our health and keep my weight down.

    Happy Thanksgiving, all....

    From Naples, Florida

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