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Gasoline consumption decreased slightly in the first quarter of 2012 compared to the same time last year, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA).

The agency found that consumption levels fell 124,000 barrels per day (bbl/d)  during that time period despite the rising cost of gasoline prices.

In addition to the economic climate, the EIA notes that, “vehicle fleet efficiency has also affected gasoline consumption.”
In comparison, in the beginning of the 2008 recession, gas consumption decreased by 3.2% in 2008 while the price per gallon rose over $4 nationwide.
 
The EIA notes the following on their website:
“Real Gross Domestic Product for the first quarter of 2012 was 2.4% higher than it was in the same period a year earlier, and preliminary data indicate that the growth rate was slightly lower during the second quarter, at 2.2%.
However, Real Personal Disposable Income, which also affects gasoline consumption, has been growing at a much lower rate in 2012, namely 0.1% during the first quarter, with preliminary data for the second quarter indicating a growth rate of 1.3%.
This helps explain why gasoline consumption was relatively low during the first three months of 2012, but may be showing some slight growth in the second quarter compared to data from a year earlier. Another factor affecting gasoline consumption is increases in vehicle fleet fuel efficiency that help reduce gasoline consumption, as more efficient vehicles use less fuel for each mile driven.”

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