Gasoline Consumption
by Passenger Vehicles
Comprehension
If you have a
vehicle, use information about your driving habits to answer the
following questions. If you don't drive but someone in your family
does, use that vehicle to answer the questions. If you and your
family all use mass transit, see what energyrelated information
you can gather about any mass transit you use. At this point, open
your favorite word processor and start a journal. Copy the questions
below to your journal and answer them.
 How much
gasoline does your vehicle burn each week?
 Compare
your estimate to those of other members of your group. What
factors explain some of the differences?
 How much
gasoline does an “average” vehicle burn?
 How much
gasoline is burned by the vehicles of all your classmates? What
additional factors did you consider?
 What information
would you need to know to estimate the total amount of gasoline
burned by US passenger vehicles in one year?
 Do you
think that this amount will increase, decrease or stay the same?
Acquisition
General
Information
Some of the factors you might have mentioned that influence the
amount of gasoline burned are: the number of vehicles on the road;
the number of miles each vehicle is driven; and the fuel efficiency
of an average vehicle (mpg). In this module we examine each factor
separately and then combine them to create one function to describe
the total amount of gasoline burned by passenger cars in the US.
Be sure to save the results for each factor

Number of Vehicles

Average Annual Mileage per Vehicle

Average Fuel Efficiency
Application
Total Gasoline Consumption:
Refer to your journal entries for hints on how to proceed. Use
the functions you derived above to answer these questions.
Numeric
estimate
 Predict
each quantity for 2001: the number of passenger vehicles,
the average miles driven per vehicle, and average fuel efficiency.
Clearly state the units for each
 Predict
the amount of gasoline that will be used by all passenger
cars in the year 2001.
 Write
a “word equation” describing the computation you carried out
in 2). This may give you ideas for the next question.
Deriving a function
 Write
a function to predict the number of gallons of gasoline that
will be used by passenger vehicles in year t; call the function
G (t)..
 Graph
G (t).
 What
trends do you see in the data?
 How much
gasoline will be consumed in 2005?
 When
will the gasoline consumption reach 250 billion gallons?
Reflection
 Reflection
on the computation
a. What did you do to predict gasoline consumption for a particular
year?
b. What did you do to predict when gasoline consumption reached
a particular level?
 Reflection
on the function
a. Do you think your estimate is good for the next 5 years?
10 year?
b. For how many more years do you think each function you
derived will give a good estimate?
c. What do you think is a reasonable domain for your function?
 Reflection
of the interpretations
a. What events might change each of the factors?
b. Currently SUVs and pickup trucks have lower fuel efficiency
than passenger cars. What changes would there be in gasoline
consumption if these vehicles efficiency improved to the same
level as passenger cars? What information would you need to
answer this question?