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Americans on track to spend more than ever on gasoline in 2011

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The amount of money Americans have spent so far this year on gasoline: $435,679,000,000. Yes, those are billions of dollars. That's on pace to set a new record for the amount that U.S. drivers pay for that fuel in a year.

In 2008, Americans spent $448 billion on gasoline. That is the current record.

In 2008, the average price for a gallon of gasoline in the U.S. was $3.25, also the current record for the average over a full year. (By the way, we'll break that record, too. So far, gasoline has averaged $3.539 a gallon across the U.S. in 2011.)

"Unless we have a monthlong event in December like 'The Day The Earth Stood Still,' Americans will spend a record amount on gasoline this year," said Tom Kloza, chief oil analyst for the Oil Price Information Service in New Jersey, who provided the numbers.

Every day, on average, Americans are spending $1.33 billion on gasoline.

But gasoline prices have dropped in recent weeks, so U.S. motorists will spend only $1.21 billion on gasoline today.

The new records are being set in spite of reduced demand for gasoline, which has been attributed to more fuel-efficient vehicles, increased fuel additives such as ethanol and the malaise over pain at the pump and the weak recovery that has followed the global recession.

Through the first 11 months of the year, gasoline demand in the U.S. is running 1.5% lower than last year at 8.964 million barrels a day. Over the last four weeks, U.S. demand has been even lower, running 4% below 2010 levels at 8.6 million barrels a day.

Today's national average for a gallon of gasoline is $3.329. In California, the average is $3.747. Both averages, from the AAA Fuel Gauge Report, broke 5-year-old records for the highest prices ever for the date (Nov. 23).

ALSO:

Retail gas prices are falling

Thanksgiving travel costs rising

Rough road to new fuel standards

-- Ronald D. White

Photo: Motorists pump gasoline at a Costco in Burbank. Analysts say Americans are driving less this year, but are still spending more than ever on gasoline because of sustained high prices. Credit: Damian Dovarganes / Associated Press

 
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