Question: The Honda Pilot (the best ranking eight passenger SUV) gets fuel efficiency of 17 mpg in the city and 24 mpg in the highway. A person travels 10,000 city miles and 5,000 highway miles per year in this vehicle. This information is summarized below.
Honda Pilot Fuel Efficiency and Use
 
City

HWAY
 
EPA MPG

17

24

Miles Driven

10,000

5,000

What is the total amount of gasoline consumed per year by this individual?
What is the weighted (city/highway) average fuel efficiency for this car?
What is the geometric average fuel efficiency for this car?
What is the harmonic average fuel efficiency for this car?
What average fuel efficiency statistic – weighted, geometric or harmonic – should be used to calculate gas consumed for this driver of the Honda Pilot?
Answer: The total fuel consumed by this Honda Pilot owner is the sum of gasoline consumed in the city and gasoline consumed on the highway.
Gas = (10000/17) + (5000/24) = 796.6 gallons
The weighted average fuel efficiency is
WA = (10000 * 17 + 5000 * 24)/ (10000+5000)
=19.3333
Note that 15000/19.3333 = 775.8 gallons, which is less than the actual fuel consumed. Hence the actual overall fuel efficiency for the Honda Pilot for this individual is less than 19.33 gallons.
The geometric average fuel efficiency is given by
GA= EXP ((10000 x ln(17) + 5000 * ln(24))/(10000+5000))
= 19.07
Note that 15000/19.07 = 786.5. This is less than actual fuel consumed. The geometric average fuel efficiency statistic also overestimates actual fuel efficiency.
The Harmonic Average fuel efficiency statistic is:
HA=(10000 + 5000)/ ((10000/17) + (5000/24))
=18.83.
Note 15000/18.83 = 796.6
The harmonic average provides us with an overall fuel efficiency statistic that is consistent with overall fuel consumed by this person.
Resources on different types of averages:
Wikipedia provides some very nice information on the different types of averages.
Harmonic Average:
Weighted Mean:
Weighted Geometric Mean:
Other environmental and fuel efficiency posts:
I have been writing a lot of stuff on fuel efficiency and environmental issues. Interested readers may want to look at the following.
Fuel Expenditures for Two SUVs
Subaru Versus Honda
Lifetime Carbon Emissions from the Prius:
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