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Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

Who is actually leaving a larger carbon footprint, the person driving with 5 other people in a large SUV, or a single person driving a sports coup alone?

Asked by Hypocrisy_Central (21139 points ) March 10th, 2014

If a person had a large SUV that seats 8 and is traveling on a trip 70 miles up and back with 5 other people, making it 6 total in the vehicle, would they make a larger or smaller carbon footprint than a single driver in a sports coup taking a trip 25 miles up and back?

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14 Answers

JLeslie's avatar

Crazy math problem. My guess is the sports car made a larger footprint. Why do you ask?

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

@JLeslie Why do you ask?
There was a friend of mine had someone tell him he was irresponsible because he drove a large SUV but he had a large family and often gave multiple people rides, the person making this accusation drove a smaller vehicle but mostly drove alone. So the question came to me. If you have more people per mile even though the vehicle traveled less miles on a gallon but carried more people is the miles traveled more efficiently used than less miles in a smaller vehicle but only used by one?

gailcalled's avatar

In the long run, the driver of the large SUV is providing chauffeuring service for the five other people and guests, thereby allowing each of them to leave their own SUV in the garage and not making its seventy-mile round trip.

Five large SUVS not on the road trump an inefficient sports coupe (sp) even though the SUVs get fewer miles per gallon. 420 (6×70) miles are not being driven.

The micro details of your last sentence (You have more people…) is beyond my comprehsnsion.

Disclaimer; I am not a mechanic.

JLeslie's avatar

Are these additonal people drivers? If it is keeping other drivers off the road then I stick with my answer. If it is kids, then if you put one in my passenger seat and two in the back seats of my Porsche, I might come out ahead. As a comparison my Porsche gets around 22 MPG. My truck, similar to a large SUV gets 18 on a really good day. There are sports cars that get better and worse and SUV’s that get better and worse. I like my VW that gets 32 MPG and you can squeeze in 5.

Kropotkin's avatar

Let me guess. Al Gore was driving the sports coupé. What a f— hypocrite.

hearkat's avatar

Most sports coupes don’t get much better mileage than SUVs, if they’re really souled-up; therefore, the carbon footprint will be larger of the vehicle transporting fewer people.

In order to provide an accurate answer to judge the lifetime carbon footprint of each vehicle, we’d need specific MPGs, how many miles your friend travels alone in the SUV, how many miles with 2 people, how many miles with 3 people, etc., how much weight each passenger adds to the load – as well as the same specifics for the critical person and their vehicle.

kritiper's avatar

Person per person, the single guy since SUV’s get fairly good MPH and sports cars don’t do all that well, MPG wise.

johnpowell's avatar

My sister gets six people in her Volvo Wagon that gets 30 MPG.

Cruiser's avatar

This Calculator Says a Cadillac Escalade would generate .08 metric tons of CO2 for it’s round trip and a BMW sports car would generate .02 metric tons o CO2 for it’s shorter round trip.

@gailcalled raises an interesting take on this question.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

@hearkat how much weight each passenger adds to the loadhow much weight each passenger adds to the load
We can’t mention weight, to point out the logic that a 370lb man or a 270lb woman could themselves equal having two passengers in one would annoy some as saying the ”metabolically challenges” people are bringing a trip disadvantage.

@JLeslie If it is kids, then if you put one in my passenger seat and two in the back seats of my Porsche,…]
If they are children unless you can put all of them in your vehicle along with their gear, you have to make more than one trip, why make two or more trips in place of one?

@johnpowell My sister gets six people in her Volvo Wagon that gets 30 MPG.
Why aren’t everyone in a Yukon Denali, a Suburban or an Escalade in a Volvo?

JLeslie's avatar

@Hypocrisy_Central It depends on the kids. For me, my bag with my ballet slippers would have fit in the Porsche just fine. Same with my tennis racket. In 11th and 12th grade I was in a Porsche all the time. My boyfriend used to borrow his brother’s constantly. All too often I wound up in the back of that thing. If I had been 8 years old it would have been no problem. Being 16 was a little tight. In fact his daughter wound up back there all the time. She was pre-school and elementary age at the time. I realize a Porsche 911 isn’t the most practical car for a family, that’s for sure. I’m not suggesting that it is the go to car for someone who hauls around kids. I was just giving an example.

I don’t like driving big trucks, vans, and SUV’s so I easily can say they take up too much space, suck too much gas, and are a hazard on the road. You also will see me at times driving a big Ford truck, because my husband needs it to trailer his other car. It’s like talking out of two sides of my mouth. I live the very thing that bothers me sometimes. Life is like that.

hearkat's avatar

@Hypocrisy_Central – I am metabolically challenged, a.k.a. obese. I am fully aware of my condition and the impacts it can have on numerous things. Not everyone is defensive.

johnpowell's avatar

@Hypocrisy_Central :: I think we are asking the same question.

NanoNano's avatar

The SUV makes a larger carbon footprint. Its irrelevent how many people are in the vehicle at the time.

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