Automobiles in the United States consumed about 66 billion gallons of gasoline in 1970, with an energy content of 8900 trillion Btu. Two-thirds of this fuel was devoted to urban travel, the remaining one-third to intercity driving. This automobile gasoline consumption accounted for 54% of the total United States transportation energy budget.
Direct consumption of gasoline by autos is only part of the automotive energy picture. Indirectly-to manufacture, sell, maintain, repair, insure, refine petroleum, and build highways for it-the automobile consumes about three-fifths as much energy as it does directly in gasoline, approximately 5500 trillion Btu in 1970. Including both direct and indirect energy, the auto consumed 16,000 Btu/vehicle-mile that year. This is equal to 21% of the total United States energy budget.