TRAVERSE CITY, MI – Mark White stopped at a gas station here recently and was pleasantly surprised to find a fill-up of his aluminum-bodied XJ sedan cost less than half what he is accustomed to paying.

Before you run out and try to get the name and address of the station from him, you should know this: White, senior body structures manager for Jaguar and Land Rover vehicles, paid $39 and is a native of the U.K.

The anecdote bears stark testimony to why some material choices and product development decisions differ between the U.S. and Europe.

For instance, why would Jaguar develop a $60,000-$80,000 all-aluminum luxury sedan aimed at customers who aren’t exactly pinching pennies? Well, for one, visits to the fuel pump in Europe aren’t taken lightly.

White says a similar fill-up in the U.K. typically costs him the equivalent of about $90. “So if you can improve mileage by 5 mpg, (0.2L/100 km) that really means something,” he tells Ward’s.

dwinter@primediabusiness.com