What will you do when gas drops below $1.50 a gallon?
Several months ago, I wrote an article asking what you would do when gas prices skyrocketed. Now, the price of gasoline is in freefall. It’s already dipped below $2/gallon in some parts of my state, and I’ve heard it has already gone as low $1.67 in some parts of the country. The question is, will this change anything for you?
When I arrived in the states, a gallon of gas was just over $1. So, the difference between filling a 12-gallon tank or a 25-gallon tank once a week was clearly no big deal for most people.
Coming from the UK, I was surprised at how many massive vehicles were on the roads here: Hummers; Suburbans; F-150s; Escalades. The list of low MPG tankers with huge fuel tanks staggered me. But hey, in America it’s everyone’s right to drive whatever they want. Hybrid technology was laughed at and electric cars were dinky little toys that could never be taken seriously.
Fast-forward to the middle of 2008 and gasoline jumps over the $4/gallon mark. The 25- gallon tank now costs $100 to fill. Car dealerships can’t sell SUVs and trucks without offering enormous discounts and free gas for a year. Drivers are on waiting lists for Hybrid cars. People are embracing ride-share and public transportation (they’re even starting to walk more and ride bicycles). A new word called “hyper-miling” became all the rage. The signs were all pointing to the end of an era; SUVs and trucks would now only be bought as a necessity, not a fashion statement.
But as you all know, the economy encountered a small hiccup in September. Did I say hiccup? I’m sorry, I meant heart attack. A big one. And as our stocks and 401Ks plummeted, so did the price of gasoline; a very thin silver lining in a big, bad, dark cloud. For the first time in years, gasoline is once again becoming one of the cheapest liquids we can buy . You can see drivers smiling as they fill up the tank. Truck owners no longer have that eye-twitch as they pull into a gas station. But what will this mean long-term?
Will the dip in gas prices affect you? Are you no longer considering a Hybrid vehicle, or are you at least putting off the purchase for a few more years? Are you driving more? Is the morning commute now made in your own car rather than a bus or train?
Personally, I am staying on the same path. That old saying of “once bitten, twice shy” seems quite apt right now. Too many people that I know bought gas-guzzling SUVs and trucks only to see their weekly gas expenses quadruple over the last eight years. And just because we’re experiencing a delightful dip in prices, it doesn’t mean the energy problem has vanished.
Fossil fuels are limited. Oil is becoming more expensive to extract and refine. We need to look to a future that does not need gasoline like a junkie needs his next fix. I will continue to hyper-mile and drive only when I need to. I will never buy a gas-guzzling truck or SUV. And our next family car will almost certainly have Hybrid technology and get great MPG. This is no time to forget the troubles of the last few years. We may have been given a little time to catch our breath, but we cannot afford to be seduced by the lull in gas prices. Sooner or later (and probably sooner) they will rise again. Be prepared.