The fuel economy of an automobile relates distance traveled by a vehicle and the amount of fuel consumed. Consumption can be expressed in terms of volume of fuel to travel a distance, or the distance travelled per unit volume of fuel consumed. Since fuel consumption of vehicles is a significant factor in air pollution, and since importation of motor fuel can be a large part of a nation's foreign trade, many countries impose requirements for fuel economy. Different methods are used to approximate the actual performance of the vehicle. The energy in fuel is required to overcome various losses (wind resistance, tire drag, and others) encountered while propelling the vehicle, and in providing power to vehicle systems such as ignition or air conditioning. Various strategies can be employed to reduce losses at each of the conversions between the chemical energy in the fuel and the kinetic energy of the vehicle. Driver behavior can affect fuel economy; maneuvers such as sudden acceleration and heavy braking waste energy.
Electric cars do not directly burn fuel, and so do not have fuel economy per se, but equivalence measures, such as miles per gallon gasoline equivalent have been created to attempt to compare them.