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Mileage gets lower with tank full. Drivers getting thriftier

2, 18. 2008

   Spending on gasoline in Japan stood at 6,775 yen per household in December, up 8.7% on year, according to the Family Income and Expenditure Survey for the month conducted by the Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry. A strange thing, however, was that the number of visits to filling stations to buy gasoline also went up, according to the same survey, while the gasoline prices were going up. This is, of course, only a statistical happening, and the amount of gasoline bought per visit dropped 6.5% to 45.785 liters on the average. This indicates that the consumers are cutting down on the amount of gasoline purchase per visit to the filling stations.

Number of visits to filling stations went up to 1.40 times from 1.33 times last year

Low mileage if tank is filled up (image photo)
Low mileage if tank is filled up (image photo)

   Based on statistics available, simple calculations show that the prices of gasoline went up nearly 21 yen per liter this past year from about 127 yen to 148 yen. To cope with the gasoline price increases, there are more people who refrain from driving their own cars. The less driving, the less amount of gasoline bought at filling stations. The frequencies of visits to the gas stations to buy gasoline, however, went up to the average of 1.40 times during the month under review from 1.33 times in the corresponding month of last year. Why does this happen?

   Simply thought, the drivers may be cutting down on the amount of gasoline purchased at a visit to the filling station to reduce the amount of money paid at one time. And there may be another reason for the more frequent visits to the gas stations. Against the backdrop of the rising and staying at high levels of gasoline prices, many reports and advices are coming out in the media on ways to cut down on fuel consumption as much as possible for those who have to drive their own cars. The "idling stop" (meaning shutting off of the engine switch while the cars are not running) and "avoid carrying unnecessary loads as much as possible" are some of the recommended efforts to reduce the fuel consumption. And there is another advice that is now noticed rather frequently is "avoid filling up the tank."

Tank full of gasoline weighs as much as an adult woman

   The specific gravity of gasoline is 0.75. It takes 60 liters to fill up a tank, meaning that a car would be 45 kilograms heavier when its tank is filled up than when the tank is empty. In other words, the car's weight goes up by about the same weight of an average adult woman when its tank is filled up. The heavier the vehicle, the lower the mileage. So, if the tank is filled up all the time, the gasoline consumption is likely to go higher. The consumers are thus likely to try to limit the amount of gasoline to buy to the minimum necessity, resulting in the rise in the number of the visits to the filling stations.

   It is not certain, however, how this trend is reflected on the survey of the Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry. The gasoline prices have gone down for six consecutive weeks now. But the retail prices still remain at high levels. Common consumers still have to do what they can to protect their living.

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