Since the first oil crisis of the 1970s, there has been a concerted push to increase the fuel efficiency of automobiles in America. As oil prices have soared and become increasingly unstable, these increased fuel standards have become implemented nationwide. While demanding more of automakers, the increased cost has not been passed along to consumers, as entry-level vehicle prices have remained constant when adjusted for cost-of-living over the past 40+ years. Meanwhile, the increased fuel standards have saved low-to-middle-income Americans anywhere between 1% and 2% of their annual income: adding up to tens of thousands of dollars per family over a lifetime.
A recent Forbes article by Ethan Siegel cites research by David Greene, research professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and a senior fellow at the Baker Center. His work found that the fuel economy improvements to cars and light trucks since 1975 have saved Americans a cumulative 1.5 trillion gallons of gasoline, along with an estimated $4 trillion, spread across all income groups.