The top ten percent of California drivers in terms of gasoline consumption (“Gasoline Superusers”) burn 28% of the state’s gasoline, and use on average 3.5 times as much gasoline as other drivers, per a new report by the nonprofit Coltura.
The majority of Gasoline Superuser households earn less than the median household income, and their heavy gasoline use comes with enormous financial cost. “Prioritizing Superusers’ switch to EVs would maximize emissions reductions and improve the finances of the most gasoline-burdened families,” said Janelle London, co-executive director of Coltura.
For instance, Compton has more than 5,000 Superusers and a median household income of $54,000. Superuser households there spend annually on average $15,000, or 28% of their income on gasoline.
“This report demonstrates that for an equitable transition to EVs we must prioritize the highest gasoline users. Among Latino/es, who earn less and face longer commutes than other Californians, and are more likely to directly face health impacts from vehicle pollution, incentivizing a transition away from gasoline is especially urgent,” said Andrea Marpillero-Colomina, Sustainable Communities Program Director for Green Latinos.
The report findings include:
Josh Ewing, Director of the Rural Climate Partnership, said, “Coltura’s report shows that rural Superusers are a crucial segment for reducing gasoline-related carbon emissions. Data-rich analyses like this can help us develop strategies for transitioning rural drivers to electric vehicles to reduce their gasoline burden and maximize the climate benefits of EV adoption. The Rural Climate Partnership encourages policymakers to prioritize investments and outreach to reach this critical segment of high-mileage drivers.”
Alongside the report, Coltura has released an interactive map of California that provides zip-code level details on gasoline consumption and expenditures.
Stuart Gardner, Program Director of Generation 180, said, “Coltura’s updated analysis highlights the financial burdens faced by those who drive the most, especially in small-town America. Educating individuals about how electric vehicles help save on costs over time and significantly reduce tailpipe emissions is key to ensuring the benefits of electric vehicles are accessible to all Americans.”
Coltura’s analysis shows that if Superusers switched to EVs first, it would take 9 million drivers switching to EVs to reach California’s target of cutting gasoline use by half by 2030. If Superusers switched to EVs last, it would take 24 million EVs to halve gasoline use.
New California legislation aims to help lower-income Gasoline Superusers
Recently-introduced California bill AB 1267 aims to expedite Superusers’ switch to EVs. Bill Magavern, Policy Director for the Coalition for Clean Air, said, “Coltura’s research demonstrates the need to free 3 million Californians from their heavy reliance on expensive, polluting gasoline. That’s why we support Assemblymember Ting’s AB 1267, which would target electric-vehicle incentives to those who most need them — low and moderate-income drivers who use the most gasoline.”
The bill passed the Assembly Transportation Committee with a unanimous vote on March 27. If it becomes law, it would be the first legislation linking EV incentives to drivers’ gasoline use.
Coltura is a nonprofit with a mission to improve climate, health, and equity by accelerating the switch from gasoline to cleaner alternatives. It is the organizational sponsor of California AB 1267.
MEDIA CONTACT: Emily Davila, Communications Director, Emily@Coltura.org /(206) 445-7628 ext. 1
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