In March 1920, gas prices hovered at 31 to 35 cents a gallon. Adjusted for inflation, that’s $4.07 to $4.59 — or double the current national average of $2.21.
Two main factors caused the high 1920 gas prices: demand outstripping supply, and the end of World War I.
Gasoline consumption has increased in much greater proportion than its production in recent years. The number of motor cars in the United States was estimated at the close of 1919 at slightly more than 7,500,000, an increase of 23 percent during the year. For the same period the gasoline production only showed an increase of 9 percent.
While conservation in gasoline was strongly urged during the war and was sufficiently adhered to to show appreciable results, it is said that less care has been shown in gasoline economy since the signing of the armistice.
Today, there are also two main factors for the low gas prices: the broader economic crash in the past week due to COVID-19 (coronavirus), and this month’s oil conflict between Russia and Saudi Arabia.
Motor Owners Paying High Gasoline Prices: No Stability in Retail Rates, Which Range from 31 to 35 Cents a Gallon Since Recent Increase
Published: Sunday, March 21, 1920
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