Saturday, March 22, 2008

Won't You Fill Up, Jack Benny?

Yeah, if you remember that old jingle, you ARE old.

But it is actually a modern spate of commercials that have me thinking. It's those ones for small economy cars, increasingly for hybrids, that show people NOT filling up, or going past gas stations, or forgetting which side of the car the gas cap is on.

Nice concept. Real life? Not so much. I seem to fill up just about as often for my driving around. And I had it confirmed for me by a recent Seattle Times article on the front page which covered high fuel prices. Yep, its gotten so bad, that the media is donating valuable space on the front page about gas prices (though by Saturday, the topmost feature was on a young woman who is literally crawling hee way into the Guinness book of world records, so things get back to normal pretty quick).

Anyway, the article has a sidebar which talks about how much it costs to tank up various vehicles. Listing fuel tank sizes and MPG, it then tells you how much for a full tank. The problem is, one's MPG doesn't affect the cost of a full tank, only the price of that tank, and how many miles you can go between fill ups.

And it confirms for me something I had believed for a long time - that smaller cars, with smaller fuel tanks, fill up just as often for the same number of miles.

Here's the numbers they give:
Honda Civic - 13.2 gallon capacity, 34 MPG highway = 448.8 miles between fill ups.
Ford Taurus Crossover - 19 gallon tank, 24 MPG = 456 miles between fill ups.
Toyota Tundra - 26,4 gallon tank, 17 MPG = 448.8 miles between fill ups
Chevrolet Cargo Wagon - 31 gallon tank, 20 MPG = 630 miles between fill ups
Peterbilt Semi 150 gallon tank, 7 MPG = 1050 miles between fill ups.

Now, you don't PAY as much to fill the tank, but the MPG advantage is balanced by the amount of gas you're putting in. So those commercials where you never fill up the tank because it has such great gas mileage - not true, because the gas tank is now smaller.

My own little Insight gets about 50 mpg (real world) but has a 10 gallon tank, so it falls into the rest of the pack fairly neatly. But when the zombies take over, and I'm trying to get to Chicago without promise of gas stations between here and there, I'm stealing a Peterbilt.

More later,