Social Question

Cruiser's avatar

Are you ready for $5.00 per gallon gas prices?

Asked by Cruiser (34999 points ) April 11th, 2011

Today I saw $4.11 per gallon coming into work and the talking heads on the radio says we should see $5.00/gal soon enough. How will this affect you? Will it affect you? Will you change your driving habits? Car pool? Ride your bike? Will you trade in your SUV for a high mileage gas sipper?

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49 Answers

FluffyChicken's avatar

This makes me really glad I don’t drive.

JLeslie's avatar

More reason for me not to get another job. So much of the money goes to the gas pump.

AmWiser's avatar

The price of gas is very depressing and yes it will affect the way I drive. Those 200 mile round trip visits to see Mom will be less (glad she understands). And as bad as I need a new vehicle I’m still leaning toward buying another SUV.

optimisticpessimist's avatar

I drive infrequently and my husband uses public transportation for most of his commute so it won’t really effect us on a daily basis; however, my daughter and I intend to take a trip this summer so it may have an affect on that.

We got used to $5/gallon gas previously and that kind of stuck with us anyway.

LuckyGuy's avatar

Based upon US fuel usage data taken over the 5 years the average consumer will reduce his consumption by only 4–7%. The difference to the average consumer will be less than $18 per week.
Plan for it.

The rest of the (industrialized) world is already used to it. Time for us to join the party.

jonsblond's avatar

There aren’t many changes we can make. We only own one vehicle, a used little 4 door with 180,000 miles on it. I’m at home all day on the farm without a vehicle while my husband is at work. I have nowhere to walk or bike to during the day. My husband drives almost 40 miles one way into work, so this is going to hit us hard. It already has. He’s looking for a job that is closer to home, but he hasn’t been able to find anything yet.

Coloma's avatar

I’ve been conserving for awhile now. Doing all my errands and shopping in one trip a week to the best of my ability.

I live in a tourist community and there is only one gas station in a 20 something mile radius.
I noticed yesterday a lot of motorhomes rolling into the big river resort near my house.
Doesn’t seem to be stopping the early vacationers and retirees out cruising.

john65pennington's avatar

If gasoline reached $10 a gallon, some people will still find a way to buy it.

Its the love of the combustion engine that people love. Electric cars will never make it, simply because of the recharging and short distance of travel it allows.

Imagine how many times a trip from Nashville to Seattle would require stopping to recharge the batteries? It would take about 10 days for that trip.

As long as gasoline is available, men and women will find a way to buy it.

Has anyone noticed all the vehicles on the side of the interstate? Wonder if they all ran out of gasoline? This will be a sight you can expect to see in the future as the gas prices continue to go up.

creative1's avatar

I have a hybrid suv and I am glad I got it because I could never have an suv with the prices of gas going up these days. At least I get the gas milage of a car with my suv being a hybrid.

Foolaholic's avatar

No, but I am ready to purchase a new road bike!

JLeslie's avatar

@john65pennington But if you are married, having one car that is electric, for local driving might make sense? It depends on the type of driving someone does. I am still trying to sort out the truth about the batteries in cars, and the environmental impact, so I am not pushing it, just saying a person has to buy a car that makes sense for their driving habits.

erichw1504's avatar

Luckily we’re getting a new car which will have some better gas mileage. We don’t go out much and work very close to home.

Last time I checked it was $3.88 here. It will be a sad day when it reaches over $4. We’ll definitely think twice before heading out somewhere after that.

tedd's avatar

@john65pennington I think you are right about todays electric cars. As the technology develops though I have every confidence you will eventually have electric cars that can go hundreds, if not thousands of miles without a recharge… and an increasing infrastructure to “refuel” them such as electric-gas stations.

Its just a matter of time, and demand. As gas prices go up and it becomes more and more expensive to drive gas than electric, the technology and interest in electric will go up.

laureth's avatar

We already bought a used Civic with decent gas mileage the last time gas prices went up, a few years ago. And since my husband and I commute together to the same workplace 5 miles away, it’s not a big deal.

I think too many people worry about the cost of fuel affecting their driving habits, and not enough worry about how it will affect their eating habits.

Qingu's avatar

Since oil is an increasingly scarce resource, nobody should be surprised that gas prices are going up.

People should pay more for gas. It costs more to produce, and it creates costs in the form of pollution.

@john65pennington, I agree with you that battery tech, today, is not quite there to replace ICEs. However, we’ve really just scratched the surface of what lithion-ion batteries can do (and they’re not even in use for many electric cars). Advances in nanotech will greatly improve their usage. Every week I read a new science paper abstract about how carbon nanotubes or somesuch have been used to double battery efficiency. There’s also a very strong market incentive in an entirely different sector—computers—to improve li-ion batteries. So I’m hopeful for the future.

diavolobella's avatar

It will really really hurt me. The prices now are hurting me. I make a 100 mile round trip every day to work and every time gas prices go up, it’s a huge bite out of my income. I’m already struggling to make ends meet and I have two children to care for. I’ve had to cut out every possible spare cent in my budget as it is, and gas prices still rise. This month I gave up parking in a garage near my workplace and I now walk several miles to my office from a parking site that is free so I can save money. I’m considering trying to find a job where I live, but salaries are lower here and benefits are almost non-existent, so even if I could find one, I’d end up about the same income-wise.

JLeslie's avatar

And, it’s not just the driving, its my grocery bill, flights, restaurants, all the things affected by the oil and gas prices.

Cruiser's avatar

@Qingu I am not tied into the technology aspect of electric cars, but I have always been in the school of thought that there is/was not enough interest in electric car technology and that has restricted research dollars and funding to really make the investment in this technology. Also heard that it would take $4.00/gallon pricing to change peoples driving habits and mind set to either support more offshore drilling or take sufficient interest in electric cars so investors and car companies would have confidence that the public will buy their products if they invest in research for better electric vehicles.

I have a friend who sells Chevys and said the Volt was POS and they were being “forced” to make quotas on the car and he said he felt like a crook taking peoples money for those cars.

Plus once OPEC sees American gas consumption habits change they will drop the price of oil and all will be forgotten and people will go back to filling up their SUV’s

tedd's avatar

@Cruiser The Volt isn’t a POS, but its not nearly as good as it could be. For the decade or so it sat in production hell under the previous management at GM, it was basically just there as something they could point to and say “See we’re investing in the alternative fuel thing and we care about the environment”... despite the fact it was seeing a tiny fraction of the funding that “real” projects were getting. Most cars spend less than 5 years in production and testing before making it to market. The Volt spent around 10, before the auto bailout. Then once Obama and company installed new management, the new management basically said, ok finish this project by date X. Despite the fact that it had had many different developers, parts, etc, crappy funding for years…. they dumped funding into it because they knew alternative is the future so they could get it to market asap.

All things considered, the car is not bad. It does exactly what its supposed to and is at least comparable to its competitors in the class. But when you compare it to the Prius, which has been at market for nearly a decade already, and has been having real money pumped into making it better, how can it possibly compete? Remember early Prius’ were pretty crappy too. If the Volt makes it for ten years, it’ll probably be pretty good.

Cruiser's avatar

@tedd I hope it’s not but when you have a salesman for the very company that makes it call it that….it’s got to make you wonder. I will add his sentiments were that Chevy rushed it to market and that he knew of the shortcomings and merely wished they would have waited or “fixed” many of the issues he felt kept him from wanting and feeling proud to sell the product.

Qingu's avatar

@Cruiser, OPEC can’t magically conjure more oil out of the earth. It’s possible the oil market today is not tied to this more fundamental supply-and-demand issue, but sooner or later, those countries will start running out of oil, and they will have to raise prices.

And I think there are way more market (and government-funded research) incentives for battery tech now than there have ever been. Though you are probably right that auto companies have not really ever been interested in battery tech until recently.

Cruiser's avatar

@Qingu I have heard the same argument applied to developing the technology and infrastructure to do the job it would take to exploit the hundreds of billions of barrels of oil from the oil sands deposits we have right here in the heart of our country. The number or barrels of oil is staggering but it would be costly…not quite sure where the cost basis was predicted. Our ex-Scout Master works for shell as a geologist and mapped it out for me I think he said oil would have to hold at over $110 per bbl but he said the Saudis would never let that happen as long as they have oil to sell us.

Qingu's avatar

I distinctly remember having this debate with you about the oil sands some time ago. I have yet to see any good evidence that the oil sands are an economically feasible source for significant oil, or will be in the future.

You can argue that we should massively invest in research so we can pull the oil out of there more effectively. But (1) this research will only benefit one industry, whereas battery research will benefit many, (2) oil pollutes; electric power does not have to pollute, and batteries will help make non-polluting power plants more feasible.

nikipedia's avatar

Won’t affect me too much. I pretty much only drive once a week, a 50 mile trip each way to LA. If I had to skip a week or take the train it wouldn’t be the end of the world.

I walk or ride my bike everywhere else.

I hate to be cold but I think this is long overdue. Long commutes and low-mileage cars are problematic for a number of reasons. If this price increase causes people to make significant lifestyle changes it could end up being a very good thing.

Cruiser's avatar

@Qingu That was kind of my whole point is that the oil is there but the logistics is monstrous. It is totally feasible but it sits right under whole towns and then becomes a “not in my back yard” debate. Just will depend on how bad we want gas under $5.00 gallon. My friend at Shell said investors won’t put up a dime in development costs until there is more legislative support. Plus with off shore drilling going gangbusters we still have a ways to go before we start running out of options.

I am no expert on this debate either and tend to follow some squeaky logic at times…but won’t it take a lot of power to recharge these batteries? Our main power generating methods are either coal or nuclear. Coal won’t last forever and I would be quite surprised to see people laying down votes to build more nuclear plants in their backyards after what has happened in Japan.

Qingu's avatar

@Cruiser, it will take a lot of power. And right now, a lot of that power is generated by coal and nuclear. One of the reasons for that is because wind and solar power—while plentifully available—cannot be generated on a schedule. Community power demands vary by time of day and by season, and our grid is not “smart” enough to effectively route and store wind and solar power when it is needed.

Better battery tech would completely change that. Batteries let you store unpredictable wind and solar power, the equivalent of a granary for agricultural products. And if everyone starts driving battery-powered cars, those very cars can function as the energy storage necessary for a renewable “smart grid.” So there is a virtuous cycle here between clean energy and battery tech. (Throw in computer tech, necessary for the smart grid, with the consumer market’s ever-increasing demands for tinier devices with better batteries, and you have a third part of the virtuous cycle).

Cruiser's avatar

@Qingu I think there is a 3rd often looked component and that is the “carbon footprint” to all this wonderful alternative energy. I am in the chemical business and right now my raw materials costs are skyrocketing….why you ask? Because Siemans and GE are building wind turbines at a record pace and consuming the lions share of raw materials I need to make my products. These chemicals are all by-products of the oil refining process. Turbines and batteries are all made of plastics again which are made from chemicals come from oil out of the ground. A lot of energy and chemicals are used and a lot of pollution and toxic waste is generated in the process. So IMO we are going to need oil either way and lots of it.

tedd's avatar

Even if we had magical sudden drilling access to every single drop of oil here in the US, it would at best fill our reserves for maybe 20 years.

Optimistic predictions on our entire planets oil wealth, used at the current rate with predicted increases in use, suggest we will reach “peak” oil within 5–10 years (if we haven’t already) and use up the entire planets supply within 100 years.

More pessimistic predictions put us at or past peak oil, and using up that supply within 50 years.

Drilling America’s oil (which btw its another argument entirely that many oil companies are purposely not drilling on American sites they have the rights too because it would cost them money if they flooded the market)....... would be a band-aid on a bullet hole wound.

tedd's avatar

@Cruiser It is very true that we use oil to make a whole ton of today’s modern products and resources (every piece of plastic is made using oil for example). But by far and away the biggest consumer of oil materials is the fuel industry.

Qingu's avatar

Wait, why would wind turbines consume the products for your chemical business?

And the fiberglass in wind turbines and the negligible amount of plastics in batteries are a drop in the bucket compared with how much oil is used for fuel. Plus many plastics can be recycled. And your raw materials costs would skyrocket with oil prices skyrocketing as well.

Cruiser's avatar

@Qingu Enormous amounts of resins and primary amines go into making them. The blades alone weigh 40,000 plus lbs and take a tanker truck of resin each. A tanker lasts me 2 months. They are and have been making lots and lots of these things. They look tiny on the horizon but up close they are really pretty big.

tedd's avatar

@Cruiser Yah they make the blades in the northern part of my city (Columbus) and every now and then you can see one being transported by truck on the highway. A single blade on one full sized (possibly longer than usual, I’ve not measured but wouldn’t be surprised) semi-truck trailer bed…. and they are over-sized and have all the yellow flags and warning cars ahead and behind.

Til you see them you really don’t understand how big they are.

Qingu's avatar

I don’t know. They are big, they are nowadays made from fiberglass, but unlike oil consumption they are permanent structures, and I’d like to see some quantataitive data comparing the amount of oil that goes into fiberglass resin with the amount of oil that goes into gas.

meiosis's avatar

Diesel is £1.41 per litre here in England, which is is $10.40 per UK gallon, and $8.70 per US gallon. It sucks.

However, given fuel economy improvements in vehicle over the past 30 years, motoring is still cheaper per mile in real terms than it was then.

diavolobella's avatar

@nikipedia People don’t make long commutes for fun, they do it because of substandard pay and benefits in the area in which they live. Until that is dealt with, it is pretty cold. Significant lifestyle changes like only being able to eat every other day aren’t really very positive. Trust me.

jonsblond's avatar

@diavolobella Yes. Not everyone has access to public transportation. I live in a very rural and poor community. Everyone here needs to travel for their work. The poor are the ones that end up suffering. City folk tend to forget about us. :/

tedd's avatar

@Qingu That is true. They may take a lot of oil and what not to produce, but at least you’ve got a windmill blade for the next 20–30 years (or however long they last). Use it as fuel and its gone, period.

mattbrowne's avatar

More than ready. In Germany we have to pay $8.26 for a gallon of diesel. It doesn’t suck at all. It’s what we need. Europe is keen on limiting the overuse of our atmosphere. This mindset is a major driver of innovation. Fuel-efficient cars in Europe are a reality. And I’m a defensive driver. My Ford Fiesta gives me 65 miles a gallon. Gas guzzlers in urban areas are like dinosaurs. They will be replaced by smaller and smarter mammals.

optimisticpessimist's avatar

@mattbrowne Well, I certainly hope not smaller. Three kids, two adults and groceries take up a lot of room.

mattbrowne's avatar

Yes, @optimisticpessimist, for that we need larger cars. There are fuel-efficient cars that size that will still give you 35–45 mpg. And new technology will improve further. But as long as gas costs less than $7 in the US, innovation will happen in Europe and Asia, not in the US.

JLeslie's avatar

@mattbrowne It is so frustrating that the cars exist, and they are not here in America, and worse, many are made by American manufacturers. There needs to be a huge cultural shift in America. I know people who are convinced they need to the larger DUV’s because on our roads they are in an unsafe diasadvantage when in a smaller ca than most of what is on the roadways. It took time for so many to start owning SUV’s and it will take time to reverse it.

@optimisticpessimist Back in the day people had cars when they had three kids and groceries, not huge SUV’s. I don’t know what you own, but a verticle trunk is rarely necessary, regular car trunks usually have plenty of room, and if America will go back to a bank seet in their more moderate cars, rather than form fitting seats in back, three children can usually fit comfortably. We are just conditioned to think we need the bigger, higher of the ground vehicle. Older teens I can understand wanting more space.

Part of it of course is in America our road trips are longer than many other countries, and so we want more comfort when we drive.

optimisticpessimist's avatar

@JLeslie I drive a quad cab pickup. It can seat 6 just not comfortably and carry just about anything I need to haul around including firewood and building materials. Yes, I do this on a regular basis. My kids are 17, 15 and 15 months (which is like having another 17 year old in the car considering the size of the car seat.) Since this truck is paid off and runs well, I think I will keep it until it dies on me. I have owned cars in the past. The trunk space in an Intrepid is unbelievably huge.

JLeslie's avatar

@optimisticpessimist For you the pickup is obviously very practical. I have no problem with that. There are people all over the country who say they need a big SUV and don’t. I actually have cars that are not great on gas mileage, my husband is a car fanatic, and it bothers me, but it is his hobby, and so I think everyone should be able to have a hobby they love. What bothers me is the technology is there so it seems, but the car manufacturers have not been forced to put it in the cars. My cars right now are actually German, so with @mattbrowne comments it is interesting. I wonder if the German cars get better gas mileage in Germany? When I buy a car for me, it is usually a better mileage Japanese car, but not always.

optimisticpessimist's avatar

@JLeslie Optimally, I would like to have a little car, maybe a hybrid, to run around doing errands when it is just me and one or two kids, but it really isn’t worth the extra car payment to me. I do understand where you are coming from, but if people were to judge my vehicle on a time basis of how often I need the truck bed versus when a trunk would be sufficient, I would probably be judged harshly.

JLeslie's avatar

@optimisticpessimist I don’t judge you :). It is more of an overall cultural thing that I have a problem with in America, not a particular individual. Americans typically do as their neighbors do. Of course there are exceptions, andof course some people do need their vehicles for work, or big families, or they simply are passionate about cars. But, a whole bunch of people bought gas guzzlers simply because they thought it was cool, to keep up with the Jones’ or because it gave them a tax break, because of how the stupid laws are written regarding tax write-offs for work vehicles. That’s why we say a lot of Hummers around town.

mattbrowne's avatar

I don’t think German cars get better gas mileage in Germany. Here’s my car, a clean diesel with cutting-edge filter technology

http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/08_37/b4099060491065.htm

‘If ever there was a car made for the times, this would seem to be it: a sporty subcompact that seats five, offers a navigation system, and gets a whopping 65 miles to the gallon. “We know it’s an awesome vehicle,” says Ford America President Mark Fields. “But there are business reasons why we can’t sell it in the U.S.” The main one: The Fiesta ECOnetic runs on diesel.’

JLeslie's avatar

@mattbrowne I have Porsches. There actually is a Cayenne hybrid now. If we did not already have one, I would have bought the hybrid.

mattbrowne's avatar

@JLeslie – I don’t think there are special versions of Porsches in the US. They are the same as in Germany. The hybrid SUV is a good idea. Some buy them because the acceleration provided my the electric engine is even more impressive.

JLeslie's avatar

@mattbrowne I think our older Porsche 911 from the 80’s gets about the same mileage as our newer one from 2007.

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