Based on these sources (1, 2) and a little bit of guesswork, the average American uses about 500 gallons of gas per year. That means the difference between $3/gallon gas and $4/gallon gas is costing the average American roughly $500 this year. I realize $500 is a lot of money to some people, and budgets are tight, and some people have to drive a lot more than others. And I love scooters and think everyone should ride them, for lots of reasons. But is buying a scooter really the best way to save money on gas?
If you’re considering a scooter in place of a second car, or to entirely replace your decaying gas-guzzling SUV, then it probably is. But if you’re thinking of adding a scooter to your existing fleet, please do the math. calculate how much gas you use in a year. calculate the REAL mileage of your car, and the REAL mileage of your proposed scooter, and what percentage of the time you’ll really be using the scooter. Calculate the title and tax fees for the scooter, and financing (if any) and insurance, safety gear, and maintenance. Chances are, your helmet, jacket, and topbox will cost more than than the extra dollar per gallon you’d spend on gas if you just kept driving your car.
Spending money to save money is a popular American pastime (e.g. buying a Kitchen Aid mixer reasoning you’ll eat out less, or the scary trend of “Earth Day Sales”). Numbers can be twisted to make you believe anything, but don’t trust them unless you’re the one doing the math, filling the blanks with your own, honest, real-world, data. Change your lifestyle and your consumption over time and you’ll see savings, but don’t go out and finance a $5000 60mpg Vespa at 28% APR to ride on sunny weekends, because your interest on the loan is going to cost you more than the few hundred bucks you’ll save on gas. If you want it and you can afford it, get it, it’s goodtimes, believe me, but don’t blame the Saudis for your attraction to Italian industrial design.
If you really want to save some money, look at your cable bill. It’s fair to say oil companies are reaming us and the government needs to step in, but no one seems to mind paying $1000 a year for television.
* one source says 464 gallons a year in 2004, the other says 431 in 2003, I added several gallons under the assumption that consumption has risen on the same pace in the past four years.