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Page added on July 31, 2014

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Are You Driving the Right Car for an Oil Crisis?

Are You Driving the Right Car for an Oil Crisis? thumbnail

With further escalation in hostilities in Iraq as the militant group, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) tries to lock down more oil and gas assets, it is hard not to worry that an oil crisis might be looming. Saudi Arabia has fortified its northern border with Iraq with more military hardware and troops while Iraqi oil industry sources report that Iranian forces were simultaneously moving into areas surrounding the Southern Iraqi oilfields, raising the stakes in a possible escalation in recent border skirmishes. At the same time, Moscow is doubling down in its support for rebel fighters in the Ukraine, intensifying its conflict with the West and increasingly the likelihood that energy trade with Russia will get disrupted.

So far, the looming global instability has not ratcheted up US gasoline prices which are generally hovering around $3.50 a gallon. But it might be a good time for American consumers to think about how well they would be positioned in an oil crisis.

The Institute of Transportation Studies at the University of California, Davis (ITS-Davis) can help you figure out the answer to that question with a new web-based tool, EV Explorer, that allows consumers to compare simultaneously up to four different vehicles on an energy cost basis.

Just enter your start and finish commute locations and frequency of travel, and the yearly costs for four vehicles will appear side-by-side. With EV Explorer, you can calculate the annual gasoline and electricity fuel costs of your commute or other travel in an easy-to-use chart that you can share with your friends.

I tested EV Explorer to see how my car, the Ford C-Max hybrid plug-in gasoline/electric vehicle, currently fairs for my short commute. I could save $10 a year if I went to an all-electric vehicle but then I would lose the flexibility to drive the car to San Francisco to see family and friends. If I went to San Francisco every day, I apparently could save an additional $767 annually if I had waited to purchase a new Toyota hybrid plug-in but then the car itself would have been more expensive, wiping out the financial benefit of my fuel savings. Driving a plug-in hybrid would save me about $800 to $900 a year versus a Honda Civic, if I traveled to San Francisco every day.

Join me in testing your car on your commute against a hybrid or electric vehicle by clicking here. Are you ready for an oil crisis? Leave a comment on the site.

Fuel Fix

12 Comments on "Are You Driving the Right Car for an Oil Crisis?"

  1. Makati1 on Thu, 31st Jul 2014 9:15 pm 

    It’s amazing how many thousands of writers are going to be entering the soup lines soon…

    With current average turnover times for car ownership in the US now exceeding 10 years, and getting longer, you are probably driving your last personally owned car. Who cares if it is the ‘right’ car? You probably have little choice unless you are in the upper 1%.

  2. clueless on Fri, 1st Aug 2014 4:25 am 

    Americans should get ready with their scooters or motorbikes ala Mad Max scenario.

  3. Arthur on Fri, 1st Aug 2014 5:38 am 

    Not so sure about ‘the last car’. Most cars simply stand idly by 95% of the time. The average commuting distance in Holland for instance is 35 km. That’s 30 minutes/day. Average occupation rate of your standard five seater sedan: 1.25. Any airliner would go bust with these kind of usage and occupation rates. Now with all these iGadgets (“iCrap”) around and total information transparency that comes with it, new models of ownership/co-usership become possible. Take taxis. If I want a taxi to bring me to the airport, I will get a brandnew air-conditioned Mercdes, driven by a guy in a suit, prentending I am mr Vanderbilt. Price tag: 50 euro for half an hour. Now there is a taxi war going on in the big cities in the Netherlands. There is an app called Uber, which enables freelancers to break into the existing taxi maffia. Predictably the Mercedes maffia dies not like it.

    Another development is community cars: a number of cars owned by a local community, vastly reducing the cost of co-ownership. Yes, you have to make a reservation first. You can’t always just jump in a car, whenever you like, but you can regularly go shopping, visit remote friends.

    In case of severe fuel shortages, the government can simply order that on long distance routes, drivers are obliged to take paying hikers, otherwise no access to the highway. Again, iGadgets can play an important role in the negotiation process between drivers and passengers (and safe payments). It does not on fuel consumption if a car has one or five passengers. Don’t write the car off yet. There is an enormous potential to postpone the end of the car age.

  4. Arthur on Fri, 1st Aug 2014 5:40 am 

    Last paragraph: It does not matter for fuel consumption if…

    My apologies.

  5. Makati1 on Fri, 1st Aug 2014 7:56 am 

    Arthur co-ownership is not going to work. Do you realize that there are on average 100 auto deaths PER DAY in the US alone and that only represents 100 serious accidents out of many hundred auto accidents of various degrees per day, every day in the US. The legal issues and liabilities will prevent any such scheme from becoming popular or even possible in the US and most countries.

    No, most people own their last car…

  6. Makati1 on Fri, 1st Aug 2014 8:02 am 

    This is an old statistic but it will give you an idea of why it will not work in the US.

    “…Car Crash Stats: There were nearly 6,420,000 auto accidents in the United States in 2005. The financial cost of these crashes is more than 230 Billion dollars. 2.9 million people were injured and 42,636 people killed. About 115 people die every day in vehicle crashes in the United States — one death every 13 minutes…”

    I say again, most people own their last car and public buses will be the next step they make … or bicycles … or walking.

  7. Arthur on Fri, 1st Aug 2014 8:59 am 

    Makata, think again. Here is a Dutch(?) initiative, dubiously named ‘Greenwheels’:

    Similar initiatives exist in Germany and I am sure in hippy-dippie US urban environments like SF as well.

    Scheme: deposit of 225 euro, monthly subscription rate of 12,50. You get a card and pincode and next you are charged by the hour and mileage after you put the card into the dashboard card reader. Insurance via lease company. Typical cost average trip: 20 euro. You don’t need to bring the car back to the original location, but comes with penalty. The big economic advantage of course is the reduced idle time of the car, with taxes and amortization remsining the same. Abandoning private car ownership can be a big relief for a shrinking family budget.

  8. louis wu on Fri, 1st Aug 2014 10:09 am 

    Sadly here in the US of A jebus says that we can keep driving SUV’s and humveehs and big ass pickups because.

  9. Don on Fri, 1st Aug 2014 4:38 pm 

    Most would probably think I am my crazy for my choice in vehicle. 4 dr 1967 chevy impala with a v8. However it has a 4 speed overdrive and gets ~25mpg while seating 6 quite comfortably. It is also carburated which means I can throw a gasket set in my small 500 cfm edelbrock and run it on any liquid fuel by just turning the dizzy a little.

  10. Beery on Sat, 2nd Aug 2014 3:45 pm 

    I don’t drive a car at all and my vehicle gets the equivalent of 1000mpg, so I’m as prepared as possible, in terms of my personal transportation, for any sort of energy crisis.

    Motorists, whatever car they drive, have chosen poorly.

  11. J-Gav on Sat, 2nd Aug 2014 4:09 pm 

    Oh yeah, Beery! I’m right with you on that one, as on a number of other things.

    But we both know that many people just don’t have the no-car option. I’ve driven mega-hundreds of thousands of miles and I got sick of it. If I ever get a chance to move to the country though, which I would really like to do, I don’t see how I could manage without some sort of motorized vehicle.

  12. Davy on Sat, 2nd Aug 2014 5:02 pm 

    Beery/Gav, I will spend 2 weeks at a time on the farm and not leave. I do need to make supply trips into town for groceries, parts, and supplies. I make sure my trips are worth it but grouping required tasks. I dislike driving to town because for me it waste hours I could be working on the farm and it disrupts the tranquility of my spirit to go on the road. Yet, I have no choice but to use a vehicle here in Missouri at least for now. If and when BAU deteriorates I may be able move away from the car culture.

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