Hybrids, E85, and other automotive dilemmas.
by, 06-03-2008 at 11:58 AM (1693 Views)
I know that gas prices are on everyones mind these days. I mean, how cant it be? Many pass multiple gas stations per day, see the rising costs of oil on the news every day, and peoples wallets and pocketbooks are getting thinner and lighter because of it. If there is any change in the future, its in the distant future.
The Hybrid conversation.
So, I was having a chat with a neighbor of mine and we were talking about the economy and I mentioned that I have one payment left on my SUV. He wanted to know if I was going to trade it in on something more efficient.
I was like... why would I want to get rid of a perfectly good vehicle that I will soon own outright just because it does not get 30MPG on the highway? What would I be gaining by going back into debt just so I can save a few hundred dollars a year on gas? Sure, if I commuted long distances, it may make an immediate impact, but I dont. (Dont get me wrong - for some people it DOES make sense to buy a new car for this purpose - just not everyone.)
Why am I bringing this sort of thing up? Well, I think that there is some sort of separation going on when it comes to the whole gas price crisis. There are people who believe that they need to go into debt for a "greener" car and those that dont. And from what I can tell so far, those that dont tend to get looked down upon like we are not doing our part to help save on gas.
The thing is that if I needed to replace my SUV, I would most likely have to do it with another SUV. Right now, the only one that would suit the bill would be the Tahoe Hybrid. (Sorry, but you just cant tow a lot with the unibody-based "SUV's" that are out there.) But at $56K, its not cheap. So, what makes better financial sense to me - not going into even more debt. I keep my cars in top mechanical shape so why not drive them till the doors fall off. After they fall off, I will just weld them back on.
The fact is that in 30 days I will have $500 more a month to do with what I want. Maybe that is to save for a new car, maybe that is to spend on fuel. But at least the choice is mine.
Will my next vehicle be a hybrid? I would like for it to be but I will buy one on my own terms. Besides, the cheapest car you can run is the one you already own.
E85 - A controversial alternative.
Alternative fuels are not new. Ethanol, and its cousin Methanol, have been around for years. In fact, I remember in the '80s that a family friend had a bumper sticker that stated "Your cornfield is my oil well."
FFV's have been around for over 10 years now. In fact, I remember GM offering it as an option to fleet vehicles as early as 1991. Now, many offer compatibility with the fuel.
There is no denying that running E85 will most likely drop your MPG rating. However, you will pay less per gallon for the fuel. At the moment, it still is not a 1:1 ratio of discount vs. drop in mileage, but at least around where I live, it is darn close.
I have heard different stories about how people say that E85 production is raising food prices and the like because of the crops it uses. I dont know if that is totally true. There may be some truth to it but at the same time I think there are other factors that are causing the price of food to rise.
Personally, I think it is a good thing to do what I can to help reduce oil usage. Sure, right now it is a drop in the bucket. But as new methods are used to convert waste products into ethanol, and it becomes widely available, it may start a turning point as to how viable it is as a motor fuel. I think the general public needs to see this as a technology that is worth looking into.
Personally, I think employers need to take a look at options such as telecommuting for some of their workforce. I can almost guarantee that if you take a person who has to spend $10 per day for gas to get to work and let him/her leave the car in the garage one or two days during the week while working from home, it will be well received. It would be like giving the employee a $500 - $1000 raise. That makes everyone happy. There is also a lot of trickle-down impact to that as well.
It only makes sense.
In conclusion, hang in there, my fellow travelers. Somehow we will make it through all of this together.