Here’s how we got the information at the bottom of our animation.

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Gas price: The statistics you see use a $3.00/gallon price.  We chose $3.00 because the recent gas price spike gave us all a taste of what an unstable, vulnerable oil market can do at the pump.  This is not just about what you’re paying right now, but what you could be paying if we don’t get better auto choices on the road. With no end in sight for growth in oil demand from the U.S., China, and India and continued concern about political instability in the Middle-East, we felt $3.00 was a reasonable, and possibly conservative price to show where we could be headed in the near future.

Gas mileage: Again, we chose a conservative estimate—the current Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) numbers. These numbers are conservative because they are based on 30-year-old Environmental Protection Agency tests that do not accurately reflect modern driving conditions or habits. But, because we were talking about revising the CAFE standards, we thought it best to go with the current CAFE numbers.

Gas cost: Since the CAFE numbers are based on outdated tests, they alone cannot provide an accurate measurement of real-world gas costs. So, we did what the Energy Information Administration does and used an “adjustment factor” (a 20 percent mileage reduction) to more accurately reflect what you’d really be paying at the pump.

Global warming pollution: Our estimate for global warming pollution includes tailpipe emissions as well as “upstream” emissions from extraction, refining, and distribution of fuels. Global warming emissions from fuel production and use in vehicles include carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, and air conditioning refrigerants; for our analysis, we measured carbon dioxide emissions only. We use a model developed by Argonne National Laboratory that equates using one gallon of gasoline with producing 11.14 kg (24.5 lb) of carbon dioxide.

Gas wasted in traffic: This statistic, seen as part of the “gridlock buster” choice in the animation, is from the Texas Transportation Institute’s 2005 Urban Mobility Report. Details can be found at http://tti.tamu.edu/researcher/newsletter.asp?vol=41&issue=2&article=2

Off-the-shelf technologies & automaker loopholes: Want to learn more about the gridlock-buster, fuel-efficient frame, transformational transmission, and other existing conventional technologies to help make today’s vehicles get more miles to the gallon?  You can find it all here in our blueprint for a better SUV.  For more on the particulars and the promise of hybrid vehicle technologies, take a tour on the UCS HybridCenter.  To learn more about the fuel economy loopholes that automakers are currently using to increase our oil dependence, see our report, Fuel Economy Fraud.

About Wendell: Wendell is a fictitious character based on many auto lobbyist stereotypes. While Wendell's comments and actions are intended be satirical and/or humorous, it is important to note that the auto industry and their lawyers, lobbyists, and public relations teams have been attempting to defeat almost every attempt to strengthen auto safety, fuel economy, and pollution standards for the past 30 years.  UCS's Automakers v. The People campaign shows how the automakers have used misleading language, anti-consumer lawsuits, and blatantly false ads to try and block California's groundbreaking efforts at curbing global warming pollution from autos. And, as our Life in the Slow Lane report shows, the automakers and their lobbyists have waged a concerted, continued campaign to block any attempts to improve fuel economy standards.