MilesPerLitre.com - An Introduction

Thursday 17th March, 2011
Once upon time, in the UK, we used to fill our cars up at the petrol station and the fuel was measured in a unit called gallons. Gallons were a standard unit at the time, under the imperial system of measures, and a fuel tank may have been around 10 gallons in size. Naturally, as people drove a distance in miles and filled up in gallons, miles per gallon or mpg became a standard measure of fuel efficiency.

Then, in the 70s, we moved to a decimal system for currency - dumping units like the shilling - and then later we started moving to metric units for other weights and measures. If, like me, you were born in the 70s; you may well be very familiar with ounces and pounds - they were used to measure bags of sweets in Woolworth's or carrots at the Greengrocers. You will, of course, be familiar with the pint; likely having consumed many during each night as a student. You won't, however, have any appreciation of gallons. You'll know mpg, you may know how many pints in a gallon, but do you know what all this means at the petrol pump? If your car does 40mpg, how far will it actually go on one litre of petrol that now costs around £1.30?

I asked around many people who passed their driving test up to 20 years ago and they had to admit, even with a calculator, they would struggle or be completely be unable to even give me a rough estimate for how far a 36mpg car will go on one litre of fuel. This isn't a sign of the state of the education system in the UK, it's just that they don't know these numbers. We don't know shillings, we don't know gallons and we don't know furlongs unless we like to dabble on the horses.

So I'd like to introduce milesperlitre.com - which, as the name obviously implies, will let users find out just how far their car can go on a litre of fuel. We're in a climate of high fuel prices, and ongoing protests about the level of tax upon it, but people don't know that £1.38 of diesel put into a Fiat Punto 1.3 can get them over 20 miles on the motorway - less than 7 pence a mile. It may be more than it used to be, but that's a veritable bargain.

Currently we have 2 main measures for fuel economy - mpg, which is good for older people and those Daily Mail readers who always seem to need the current fuel price converted into something like £6.03 a gallon, and l/100km, which is absolutely no use to anybody in the UK as we understand kilometres less than we do gallons. MilesPerLitre allows us to combine the units on our odometer and speedo with those that have been on the petrol pump for 20 years. Gallons offer no value any more and I personally feel it's time we moved on from a confusing measure that few people understand and ends up in conflict with US mpg which is a completely different measure. There are over 1.2 US gallons in a UK gallon which gives a UK reader finding a US review the impression that their next new car might actually do 17% less miles on a tank of fuel than it actually does. There is only one litre measure, so the MilesPerLitre result is understandable to all drivers and a standard that could never be confused with any other.

Take a look and please let me know what you think. Also feel free to follow us on twitter, @milesperlitre

Now for the geeky bit...

MilesPerLitre.com contains the entire VCA database information for Euro 5 and Euro 6 compliant vehicles on sale in the UK in 2011. If it's not in the database, it's not here. There are some notable exceptions and, if you're a motor manufacturer and would like them included, drop me a line to discuss or contact the VCA to get your results published. The site is more designed for function than form, to say the least, but I'm a non-commercial operation and I do this in my spare time at my own cost. As such, I can't afford fancy graphics or a modern site design. My aim is simply to collate public domain information and present it to readers in an understandable form. It would be great to hear any feedback, positive or negative, either directly via email or through a comment on this post.

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