Allstate recently partnered with Cars.com to study the dynamic between fuel efficiency and passenger weight.
What they found was heavy, to say the least.
In the last 40 years, over 1 billion gallons of gasoline could be attributed to driver weight gains, the study found.
“Americans keep gaining weight, and cars are losing it,” the Allstate blog noted. “It’s a seesaw battle that’s making it difficult to realize the gains expected by a big push for lighter, more fuel-efficient cars.”
Here are a few of their key findings:
- 39 million gallons of fuel are used per year for every pound added in average passenger weight
- An extra 100 pounds in a vehicle could reduce miles per gallon by up to 2%
- The challenge of making more fuel efficient cars is heavily compounded by passenger body weight
- Carmakers will be looking for new ways to lighten the load as the government regulates fuel economy
Automakers are finding innovative ways to create lighter, more aerodynamic vehicles. Some carmakers, such as Nissan, are looking to phase out heavyweight material in favor of high-strength steel and lighter aluminum.
This investment has made the 2013 Nissan Altima approximately 80 pounds lighter than its predecessor, with 31 miles per gallon—15% more than its previous model.
The impetus to this sudden industry weight loss plan? New government regulations.
The federal government won’t be easing pressure on automakers for greater fuel efficiency anytime soon, the study reiterates.
Light-duty truck manufacturers will be subject to new regulations that aim to double fuel economy by 2025, under new rules presented by the White House. The Obama administration claims that this move will be comparable to reducing gasoline prices by a dollar per gallon.
As safety features have gotten more advanced with time, so have the size and weight of cars. The challenge now is to retain safety and technological advancement while decreasing vehicle (and passenger) weight.