I was listening to the radio a few days ago and heard an American complaining that, for all the advances in technology, the cars coming out of the factories still do 28 miles per gallon and that doesn’t seem to be changing very fast. The British presenter pointed out, with an air of smug superiority, that this was an American problem and that cars over here do 40 mpg.
Now, it is true that European cars are smaller and generally more economical than the substantial beasts that come out of Detroit, but the difference isn’t as great as you might think from a quick glance at the numbers, for a simple reason: US gallons are smaller than British gallons. It’s surprising how many people don’t know this. Both gallons have eight pints, but a US pint is 16 fl.oz and a British one is 20 fl.oz (for some strange reason, probably to do with beer consumption). A UK gallon is therefore 25% bigger.
So, my fellow countrymen, when you read a US-based web page advertising a car that does 40mpg, remember that yours will have to do noticeably more than 50mpg before you are entitled to feel smug!