MPG Vs TGB: Which is More Important?

An idea.

Most people talk about a cars fuel performance in terms of miles per gallon (MPG) or how many miles they can squeak out of a gallon of gas. When I was a kid, this wasn’t something really thought that much about, but these days, with fuel prices rising and the environment suffering, MPG is often right at the forefront of a car buyers decision making.

If you are in need of a new car, I think MPG is something you should be considering as you want to get the most out of every gallon of gas you need to use. But there is another acronym that is rarely, if ever, spoken about (perhaps because I may have come up with it with a friend) and that’s TGB, or total gallons burned.

You see, it’s important to get as many miles as you can on each tank of gas, but that’s only the small part of the picture, because you are still burning, depleting, and relying on fossil fuels. So what’s really important is the bigger picture and how many gallons (or liters if you live across the pond) you end up burning over all, or your TGB.

Let’s say John has a Prius and Bob has an old Subaru. John averages 50 MPG (he’s type A about how he drives) and Bob averages about 25 MPG. In the cocktail circles of Hollywood (where I live and work), it would seem that John has stepped up and made the commitment to care about the environment by investing in new technology that will reduce his reliance on fossil fuels. And if that’s all the info we’re going to consider, that would be a correct assumption.

But now lets’ factor in Bob and Johns overall driving needs. John commutes to and from work, drives to the store, and on the weekends, puts his bike on the back of the Prius and drives to the mountains to go riding. He averages about 200 miles per week. Bob on the other hand rides his bike to work, heads to the store and back by walking or taking the bike, and only drives his car on the weekends to visit friends and occasionally pick up larger supplies that he needs. He drives about 50 miles a week, or 25 percent of what Bob drives.

So in the end equation, Bob is actually doing more to limit his dependence on fossil fuels (when it comes to transportation) than John is, even though it doesn’t look like it by checking out their driveways. Since a gallon of fuel burned creates the same need for replacement and puts out the same CO2 no matter how it is burned, the truly important number we should be talking about when it comes to transportation is how much you are burning overall, not how much you are burning per trip.

The reason I like this idea, and I don’t want to sound like I’m putting Prius owners down because I am not, is that it allows us to equate people on equal footing. The person with the long commute and enough money to buy a new car can do so and decrease their fuel consumption footprint. But you can do the same thing by changing your lifestyle, and in many ways it’s better on a lot of levels, and it won’t cost you a dime. Consider also that by driving less your car will last longer, saving you even more money, and will not need to be replaced nearly as readily.

And no matter what your interests or beliefs are, this makes sense. Are you worried about Global Climate Change? Drop your TGB. Think we need to get off of foreign oil? Cut your TGB in half. Tired of paying too much at the pump? Well you get the idea.  The list goes on and on as I doubt very few people these days, besides the execs at BP, would try to convince us that burning more gas is a good thing.

So there you have it. TGB.  Anyone in on this?

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Scott Vonwolf
Scott haakon5 years ago

ALL this does not good when you have only one vehicle for many purposes. Practical is the best thought. Does this meet all my needs or as close to it as possible?
If you have more than one then it become what is the grocery getter and what is recreation.

mr Crowley
mr Crowley5 years ago

interesting, thanks!

Gavan A.
Gavan A.5 years ago

Very interesting, thanks.

Marcel C.
Marcel C.5 years ago

For a long time, I've seen this as a justification to spend more renting a place closer to work rather than buying a fancy hybrid an living further away where housing is cheaper. I admit, I'm as interested in the time savings as the TGB, but thanks for putting name on the concept.

Storm M.
Storm M.5 years ago

Thanks for this. It's funny, I was making this point to a neighbour last week. I drive a pickup truck. Most of my friends and neighbours have smallish cars. However, they don't think twice about dashing out to the store, etc. I, on the hand, do think about it! I can guarantee that my total consumption than many people. I won't run out to get that loaf of bread, I walk to the corner store or wait until I have enough errands to do and do it all at once. This is because I drive a higher consumption vehicle. Paradox, maybe.

gail d.
gail dair5 years ago

Thanks for post

Jane L.5 years ago


Mervi R.
Mervi R.5 years ago

Didn´t know this, thanks!

Dorota Janik
Dorota Janik5 years ago

interesting subject, thanks!

johan l.
paul l.5 years ago

Interesting article and so true.
We have the unfortunate case where both my daughters have to do a lot of driving between the schools!
Not only taking them and picking them up but also for all sorts of sports after schoolhours!
Now my eldest and youngest daughter both drove a Honda Jazz auto and used more or less the same amount of fuel per month.
As we work in km. per liter just for you Americans who have not yet arrived in the 21st century (joke) this boils down to about 45 miles per gallon (I think).
Now my eldest daughter received a Honda CRV on her 40th birthday last week she has already calculated that she only gets about HALF of what she got in the Jazz.
Goes to show you what one has to bear in mind when driving.
I must add that she is absolutely thrilled with the CRV.
Still, we must all use as little fossil fuel as we possibly can.