You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

The cost of gas the year you were born

24/7 Wall St. Logo By Sam Stebbins of 24/7 Wall St. | Slide 1 of 72: <p>There were an estimated 218 million motorists in the United States in 2015, accounting for a combined 3.1 trillion vehicle miles traveled the same year -- more than in any year prior. Because of our dependence on personal vehicles, the price of gasoline can have a considerable impact on Americans’ budgets and can also have much broader economic implications.</p><p>The price at the pump across the country is subject to global forces of supply and demand of crude oil. Shortages and relatively high demand will cause prices to spike, while a glut in supply tends to keep gas prices low.</p><p>In recent years, American motorists have caught a break at the pump, following a roughly 50% drop in the price of a barrel of crude oil from 2014 to 2015. Nationwide, a gallon of gas cost an average of $2.45 in 2015 -- down from an all-time non-inflation adjusted high of $3.64 per gallon on average nationwide in 2012.</p><p>Despite the fall in crude oil prices, for much of the last several decades, gas has been even less expensive than it currently is. 24/7 Wall St. reviewed data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration to identify the average cost cost of a gallon of gas every year since 1945.</p><p>A gallon of gas cost less than a quarter in 1945. However, after adjusting for inflation, fuel costs that year were roughly in line with today’s prices. Still, gas prices have ranged dramatically in the last several decades, from an inflation adjusted average national low of $1.47 in 1998, to a high of $3.80 in 2012.</p><p>Meeting demand for gasoline in the U.S. is no small task. Oil companies extracted some 3.4 billion barrels of crude oil in the U.S. in 2015 -- up considerably from 3.2 billion barrels the previous year.</p><p>The country also depends heavily on foreign oil. The U.S. imported 2.7 billion barrels of crude oil in 2015, roughly the same amount as in 2014. However, the broader trend reflects a reduced reliance on foreign oil. Due to a range of factors, including decreased demand and increased U.S. production, crude oil imports have fallen 27% since an all time high of 3.7 billion barrels in 2005.</p><p>About half of all petroleum in the U.S. is refined into gasoline. Though it can be used for a wide range of purposes, personal automobiles account for 90% of gasoline consumption nationwide.</p><p>Though the progression is not always linear, Americans appear to be driving more and more each year. While 2015 was a record year for total vehicle miles traveled, it was not a record year for fuel consumption. Due in large part to increasingly fuel-efficient vehicles, Americans consumed some 437.8 gallons of gasoline per capita in 2015 -- well below the all-time high of 510.5 gallons in 1978.</p>

The Cost of Gas the Year You Were Born

There were an estimated 218 million motorists in the United States in 2015, accounting for a combined 3.1 trillion vehicle miles traveled the same year -- more than in any year prior. Because of our dependence on personal vehicles, the price of gasoline can have a considerable impact on Americans’ budgets and can also have much broader economic implications.

The price at the pump across the country is subject to global forces of supply and demand of crude oil. Shortages and relatively high demand will cause prices to spike, while a glut in supply tends to keep gas prices low.

In recent years, American motorists have caught a break at the pump, following a roughly 50% drop in the price of a barrel of crude oil from 2014 to 2015. Nationwide, a gallon of gas cost an average of $2.45 in 2015 -- down from an all-time non-inflation adjusted high of $3.64 per gallon on average nationwide in 2012.

Despite the fall in crude oil prices, for much of the last several decades, gas has been even less expensive than it currently is. 24/7 Wall St. reviewed data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration to identify the average cost cost of a gallon of gas every year since 1945.

A gallon of gas cost less than a quarter in 1945. However, after adjusting for inflation, fuel costs that year were roughly in line with today’s prices. Still, gas prices have ranged dramatically in the last several decades, from an inflation adjusted average national low of $1.47 in 1998, to a high of $3.80 in 2012.

Meeting demand for gasoline in the U.S. is no small task. Oil companies extracted some 3.4 billion barrels of crude oil in the U.S. in 2015 -- up considerably from 3.2 billion barrels the previous year.

The country also depends heavily on foreign oil. The U.S. imported 2.7 billion barrels of crude oil in 2015, roughly the same amount as in 2014. However, the broader trend reflects a reduced reliance on foreign oil. Due to a range of factors, including decreased demand and increased U.S. production, crude oil imports have fallen 27% since an all time high of 3.7 billion barrels in 2005.

About half of all petroleum in the U.S. is refined into gasoline. Though it can be used for a wide range of purposes, personal automobiles account for 90% of gasoline consumption nationwide.

Though the progression is not always linear, Americans appear to be driving more and more each year. While 2015 was a record year for total vehicle miles traveled, it was not a record year for fuel consumption. Due in large part to increasingly fuel-efficient vehicles, Americans consumed some 437.8 gallons of gasoline per capita in 2015 -- well below the all-time high of 510.5 gallons in 1978.

© Thinkstock

More From 24/7 Wall St.

AdChoices
image beaconimage beaconimage beacon