The 100-Year Search For A Fuel-Efficient Vehicle

The best place to start saving fuel? Choose a fuel-efficient car.

Fuel prices are up–way up, and drivers are desperate for a way to avoid what feels like highway robbery at the gas pump.

Despite the fact that this is the second time gas prices have been over $4 in less than four years, Americans still aren’t buying fuel-efficient cars. One reason might be that most people believe high fuel prices are only something that must be tolerated temporarily. Another might be that they just don’t like the small, weak reputation that American’s associate with super-efficient cars.

As Brian Merchant of TreeHugger points out, “we figured out how to produce cars that get 40 or so mpg some 60 years ago. And only in the last few years have we really started improving on that.”

Why? “Fuel efficiency never really needed to improve as long as gas was cheap — the pollution they emitted was poorly understood early on, and there was no real reason to spend too much time and energy on increasing a cars’ gas mileage.”

Well gas isn’t cheap anymore. And as we wave goodbye to peak oil in our rear-view mirrors, it’s probably safe to say that our days of inefficient, gas-guzzling SUVs and luxury cars are numbered as well.

Click to expand the infographic below, and scroll through the timeline to see the most promising advances in fuel-economy for the past 100 years.

Created By WellHome Energy Audits and Insulation

Image Credit: Flickr – Chego 101

15 Easy Ways to Save Gas
Are Electric Cars Really Better for the Environment?
Top 5 All-Electric Vehicles of 2011


Dave C.
David C2 years ago

electric with more cleaner and greener electric options?

Dave C.
David C3 years ago

.....a bicycle?....2 legs.....

Jess No Fwd Plz K.
Jessica K4 years ago

You could also try driving less, even with a fuel-efficient care. Thanks.

Duane B.
.5 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

Mary M.
Mary M6 years ago

One of the car companies bought out the carb. that got 40-50 mpg. Do you think they couldn't do better? I think they are still buying out the rights to make money!
The greed will bring this country to it's knees! And then I listen to politicians say how the rich need to pay less in taxes than the middle class!

Joe R.
Joe R6 years ago


KS Goh
KS Goh6 years ago

Thanks for the article.

Lauren Mckenzie
Lauren Mckenzie6 years ago

I hope that things can change, soon.

Michele Wilkinson

Thank you

Stephen Phillips
Stephen Phillips6 years ago

Finally overcame the obstructionists who prevent us from even having the OPPORTUNITY to purchase fuel efficient vehicles, and imported a 2004 Toyota Echo RS 5-door hatchback from Canada: Snappy performer, excellent condition - and 45 mpg at posted speeds of 65~70 mph (40 mpg @ 80 mph - I just HAD to check!)....