In my rant recently about how vehicles in the US have roughly the same mpg they had 30 years ago, I missed these two amazing charts/statistics from the NY Times in a piece titled The Future of Oil: The Big Thirst (via NARP)
In that article which does a good job of overviewing the current reasons for a not-so-rosy outlook in the energy sector, it gives some context for our current demand in oil.
Compared to several other countries our usage is up dramatically when every other country is steady or down. This is really amazing because it basically means the capability to be more efficient is there, but we have been ignoring it.
Supporting this idea that our vehicles are behind (or at least the vehicles marketed here, and that there is 'demand' for) is this chart showing the average mpg of vehicles sold in the US, Japan, China and the European Union. You might expect a difference knowing that many of those areas favor smaller cars, but you might not expect our MPG to be nearly 50% lower