Eden Hill Journal

Comments, dreams, stories, and rantings from a middle-aged native of Maine living on a shoestring and a prayer in the woods of Maine. My portion of the family farm is to be known as Eden Hill Farm just because I want to call it that and because that's the closest thing to the truth that I could come up with. If you enjoy what I write, email me or make a comment. If you enjoy Eden Hill, come visit.

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Location: Maine, United States

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Black Gold

http://www.blackgold.com/
I haven't read much recently about the recent rise in the price of gasoline, but on signing out of Hotmail Tuesday evening I found a link to this site:
http://moneycentral.msn.com/content/invest/extra/P131145.asp
One very interesting point in that article was that world crude oil prices which now average $58.20 a barrel were on average $22.74 just six years ago last month.
I've been noticing the increase. I don't own any serious gas-guzzlers, but I know people who do, people who way back last spring noticed that they were paying $65 to $75 every time they stopped to fill up their tanks. Let's do some math. Suppose gasoline costs $3.00 a gallon at the pump. Using MSN statistics, a 2003 Ford Expedition 4WD with the 232 hp V-8 (original retail price of nearly $32,000) gets 14 mpg city, 18 mpg highway (13 and 17 for the larger V-8). Let's assume that a semi-aggressive driver doing mainly city-type driving averages 15 mpg. Let's also assume that this person drives this rig 300 miles per week on average, 15, 600 miles in a year. Actually those assumptions are low by the standards of most modern suburban commuters, but in any case, let's go with these figures. This driver would average 1,300 miles per month and at 15 mpg, average 86 2/3 gallons of gasoline each month. Each month, this driver would consume $260.00 worth of gasoline. If this driver filled up the tank weekly, each fill-up would average $60.00.
Such a vehicle when used for business commuting or heavy suburban commuting might see triple this use. Three times each week, this driver would face a $60.00 fill-up with a yearly gasoline expense of $9,360.
Luckily I don't own a Ford Expedition. I own an old Ford Ranger pickup with a 3.0 liter V-6 and a 5-speed. My wife has been going through some grief, though. Her Saab turbo which averaged 28 mpg for her needed replacing when the odometer went past the 200,000 mile mark. We made the mistake of replacing it with a 4-cylinder Dodge Caravan which simply drank gasoline with her foot on the gas pedal. Our interim fix is an older Ford Escort 5-speed. I estimate that at today's prices, the Escort will save her about $1,500 per year in gasoline over the 4-cylinder Caravan. Granted I would much rather see her driving a safer car like the Toyota Prius. At $3.00 per gallon, a Prius would save her roughly $2,200 per year over the Caravan.
Over the Ford Expedition, the Prius would save $6,435 per year off the $9,360 figure calculated above. Imagine that.
But here's the thing. If everybody saved money on gas that way, the demand for gasoline would fall, forcing the oil companies to drop their prices. Lower fuel prices mean reduced savings when comparing gas guzzlers with economical cars. So fuel economy is an incentive only if fuel prices remain high and they will remain high only if Americans insist on wasting fuel. That's sort of a Catch-22 isn't it?

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