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Sierra Daily

Jun 29, 2012

Dispense With A Horse

First car adHere, courtesy of Retronaut, is the first American car ad, from 1898. The first buyer was one Robert Allison of Port Carbon, Pennsylvania. What struck me was the expense-saving pitch--that one could run the Winton Motor Carriage for 1/2 cent per mile.

Inflation calculation is tricky pre-1913, but half a cent in 1898 is worth about 15 cents today. That per-mile rate would still be a pretty good deal, considering that the AAA estimates that the average new car costs about 60 cents per mile to operate.

Unless, of course, you had an electric car. According to Consumer Reports, you can drive a Nissan Leaf for 3.5 cents per mile, a Chevy Volt (in electric mode) for 3.8 cents, and a Prius for 8.6 cents per mile. Cost per mile to ride a horse these days? $1.42.  

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PAUL RAUBER is a senior editor at Sierra. He is the author, with Carl Pope, of the happily outdated Strategic Ignorance: Why the Bush Administration Is Recklessly Destroying a Century of Environmental Progress. Otherwise he is a cyclist, cook, and father of two. Follow him on Twitter @paulrauber.

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