If you know what the acronym VMT stands for, then this story probably won't come as much of a surprise. VMT stands for vehicle-miles traveled, and Americans drove their VMT numbers way, way down last year. VMT is just one way to measure demand for oil, and the decrease in VMT plus the rise of fuel-efficient vehicles - and fuel-free electric cars - means that the oil industry is gearing up for something new: the end of the oil slurping era. You don't need to take my word for it, the industry-friendly Wall Street Journal says it's true.

Yes, Exxon Mobil executives now say that consumption of gasoline in the U.S. has peaked. [A quick aside: does this strike anyone else as a different and highly ironic type of peak oil?] The lifestyle changes that you, I and everyone else is making (intentionally or because of the down economy) are having an impact. One indicator: the WSJ says, "There are 11% fewer places to pump gas in the U.S. today than there were a little over a decade ago." Of course, as we slow down, places like India and China are ramping up, so global demand won't necessarily decrease. There's much more in the Journal and a video about the closing gas stations after the jump.

[Source: WSJ via Domestic Fuel]
Photo by Bill in Ash Vegas. Licensed under Creative Commons license 2.0.

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