Created By WellHome Energy Audits and Insulation
Take a looksy at this cute little chart, if only to see how little progress there's been in fuel efficiency over the last 100 years. As you can see, we figured out how to produce cars that get 40 or so mpg some 60 years ago. And only in the last few years have we really started improving on that.Of course, fuel efficiency never really needed to improve as long as gas was cheap -- the pollution they emitted was poorly understood early on, and there was no real reason to spend too much time and energy on increasing a cars' gas mileage.
You can see in the chart that there's an uptick in efficiency after the 80s, after the fallout from the 1970s oil crisis (you can sort of see this, anyway--I have no idea why the designers of this graphic included the 100 mpg Subaru concept; it's entirely unrepresentative of cars of that era. I suppose the point was to show we had the technology to do such a thing then, but I digress ...).
And then, only in the aughts do we see vehicles with next-generation efficiency technologies (ie, non-combustion engine) finally take root. The Prius is a sold step forward, and now, today, we stand on the brink of seeing mainstream electric cars cut out gas altogether. Again, the Volt isn't the most representative of this next wave, nor does it get 50 mpg (don't know where that number came from) -- the EPA rated it 93 mpg-e, when its electric battery is factored in.
The next part of the chart shows how various events and legislation impacted efficiency standards -- it's a good reminder that car companies don't typically make any effort to improve mileage unless there's goading (or anticipated goading) from the state.