May 27, 2013


East Coasters Drive Down Gasoline Demand (LIAM DENNING, 5/27/13, WSJ)

On a 12-month rolling average, U.S. gasoline demand peaked in September 2007 at almost 9.3 million barrels a day. By this February, that had dropped 6.5% to just under 8.7 million barrels a day.

The decline has been uneven. Gasoline demand stayed flat in states bordering the Gulf of Mexico or in the Rockies. But on the East Coast, it has slipped 10% below its peak level. Indeed, while that region represented just over a third of U.S. demand at the peak, it has accounted for half the overall drop since then.

One reason: East Coasters seem to buy more hybrids and fewer trucks. Excluding luxury vehicles and fleets, hybrids accounted for 4.3% of new registrations in Boston, New York City, Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington, D.C., in the first quarter, according to Tom Libby, an analyst at Polk. That is higher than the 3.8% elsewhere and has been rising the past three years. Meanwhile, half-ton pickups account for just 3.7% of vehicle sales overall in those five cities against 9.7% in the rest of the country.

The more striking trend: East Coasters are simply driving less. Vehicle miles traveled in Northeast and South Atlantic states in the year ended in March were 4.2% lower than in the same period ended in September 2007. In the rest of the U.S., they are down just 0.5%.

Posted by at May 27, 2013 7:39 PM

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