Get this:

You save more fuel switching from a 15 to 18 mpg car than switching from a 50 to 100 mpg car.

Okay, I’m obsessing. But apropos of my post yesterday on how SUVs can save the climate, I just calculated this little fact and I had to share. This assumes, of course, that both cars are driven an equal amount. (Hat tip is in order for Jon Rynn, commenter at Gristmill.)

So, we should stop trying to design a techno-magic, futuristic “super-efficient car.” It really won’t end our oil addiction or save us from climate change. That’s right: no more HyperCar and no more FreedomCar. At least not until we’ve done the dull and unsexy work of boosting fuel economy at the bottom of the fleet, where it matters far, far, far more.

The real fix for oil addiction isn’t exciting, and it doesn’t lend itself to massive research investments. But the good news is: we just need to do stuff that we already know how to do. So here’s my new policy proposal. While CAFE standards (fleet averages) are groovy, what we really need to do is simply outlaw vehicles that get below, say, 15 or 18 mpg.

It’s easy like that.

Check out the chart below the jump…

  • mpg curve_324

    I realize that this is wildly counterintuitive, but it’s true. The explanation is here.

    See the raw numbers and check my math here (Excel spreadsheet). It’s much simpler than you probably think.

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