Oil $100 a barrell... What next?
January 3, 2008
1. I may give up my car since I never drive except for Snowshoe and seeing my family in New England
2. I signed up for Zip Car
3. If I need a car, it will be a hybrid
Anyone thinks we may be affected?
What next??...$101 a barrel..DUHHHH!
hahaha. That was my exact thought when I saw the title of the thread!
I bought a hybrid this past summer, and I have yet to get a tank of gas. I don't know why more people don't buy these things -- you can go for thousands of miles on a tank of gas!
Umm.. Well, I guess that's not *quite* true.
But I'm really enjoying the hybrid. It's a hybrid SUV, so it's not exactly the most fuel efficient vehicle, but it's certainly up towards the top of its class (and at the very top when considering performance). It's also very quiet. At slow speeds the gas engine shuts off entirely -- this allows you to cruise around parking lots completely quietly, scaring pedestrians. Great fun!
I've also noticed that rental companies such as Hertz are renting Priuses in some locations. If I am renting from a location that has hybrids, I'll definitely pay extra to go for the hybrid. I know several Prius owners and they have been completely satisfied with their car. Ditto for hybrid Civic owners.
When gas prices have gone up in the past (which is pretty much all they've been doing the past few years), people often wonder what effect it will have on the number of ski road trips people make. But I haven't heard that it's had any significant effect on the Mid-Atlantic, at least not yet. I do wish bus service from D.C. or Baltimore to local resorts would be a viable business. Has anyone here cut down on the number of ski trips you make due to the cost of gas?
The record high for gasoline in the US is still back in the early 80's when adjusted for inflation. Sure we've never see $3/gal but I don't think things are as bad as they say....guess I just see things not as doom and gloom....if the market really goes down, its just on sale!
Your comments regarding bus service are right on target. It amazes me that some of the resorts don't do this and underwrite service to their resort at a reasonable cost the way the casios do in Atlantic City.
Just think what it would do for a resort like Seven Springs, or the creative new owners at Hidden Valley. The distance to their resorts is a factor for some skiers who would rather not make the drive, and bus service would mitigate that and bring a captive audience to sell tickets, food, lodging, etc not to mention promote more frequent visits and introduce new visitors.
For a bus company to do it on their own, the issue is getting the word out to fill the bus and make it profitable. But the resorts are in a better position to market it and have much more to gain than just selling a bus ticket.
I don't by that it is all relative. It isn't as bad as it was in the 70/80's argument. In the 80's I was still riding around in the back of my parents Chevy Impala Wagon. Ski trips to 7 springs and Hidden Valley were much cheaper for me back then.....relatively (ha!).
Hey Scott, hybrid SUV? What is it? I am beginning to think about a new SUV, besides Zipcar. It would be great to have a hybrid.
There are several hybrid SUV's on the market now. I bought the Lexus Rx400h. Toyota also makes a hybrid Highlander. Ford makes a hybrid Escape (and there's also the Mercury Mariner hybrid, but I think that's just a rebadging of the Escape). These all come in 4WD versions, although they're car-based 'utes, so you won't want to venture too far off-road. I think Saturn also has a hybrid version of the Vue, but I'm not sure if it's 4WD.
With the Rx400h, Lexus was trying to get V8 performance at V6 efficiency as much as they were going for better mileage, so the design goal was a bit different than the Prius (which was all about maximizing mileage). According to the EPA's new testing metrics, the hybrid Escape gets about 31 mpg and the Highlander and Rx400h get about 29. In practice, I find that I am getting around 26-28 mpg. With slight changes to your driving habits, you can optimize the efficiency of hybrids and get on the high end of estimates.
My previous car was a Nissan Pathfinder, which I loved -- but it was rated around 15/18 mpg. The Lexus is roughly the same curb weight (with comparable cargo space) but getting much better mileage (with a smoother ride), so I consider that a move in the right direction. It may not be as agile off-road, but it should be great in the snow, and I only took the Pathfinder off-road a couple of times -- hard to justify tens of thousands of road miles at 17 or 18 mpg for a couple off-road trips.
I haven't changed my driving habits for ski trips because of the cost of gas, but I do find it disturbing that I spend $40-50 on gas to drive to Wintergreen and back, yet my entire season pass was only $200. Over a ski season of driving to Wintergreen for day trips, say 20-25 days, that's about $1000 for gas. And I'm not counting trips to Snowshoe, Canaan Valley, or Vermont. If I add those in, I bet I hit $1500 for fuel costs, if not more.
I typically get 20-25mpg, depending on how many people are in the car and whether there are skis on the roof (I have an Acura RDX). It would take a serious jump in real world MPG to put a dent in the fuel costs.
One thing I found shopping for hybrids is that the real world mpg -- say with passengers, gear, ski rack, and skis -- is not as good as I'd hoped. That has kept me away from hybrids thus far. I do think they would be ideal for my regular work commute though, where it's just me and the car driving at moderate speeds.
People always talk about skiing being expensive, but nowadays, fuel costs are definitely way more than I spend on a season's pass, lift tickets, and gear.
If you want to find out where the price of oil is heading, watch the documentary film, " A Crude Awakening" where a bunch of oil company executives and petroleum experts talke about the dismal future for cheap energy. This same subject was covered recently in a National Geographic magazine article called "the end of cheap oil". Unfortunately, we have not prepared well in this country. Denmark for example gets 20% of it's electricy from wind turbines and Europeans drive tiny little cars. There are trains to all of the major ski regions. Brazil has replaced 70% ( not sure of the accuracy of this number since I am doing this from memory)of their gasoline with ethanol made from sugar cane. What are we doing here? Not much. One day we'll have to wake up. Our politians I am afraid don't have the back bone to tell us that we going to have to sacrifice later, big time, if we don't do something now. What's amazing to me is that gasoline is still cheaper than bottled water?????
On recent trips to Canada and Europe, one glaring difference jumped out at me. In Quebec, as many as seven years ago, I noticed that my convoy of WV skiers were the only ones on the road in gas guzzzling SUVs. Back then gas in Canada was $.79/litre which put it over 100% higher than in the states. In Europe, they use mass transit, and fuel efficient cars everywhere. In the citys, it the bicycle, and they are everywhere. In the states, it's 2, 3, some or even four or more cars in every driveway. It's our mindset and I'm just as guilty. The car equates to individual freedom and status. Sort of like the second amendment. Americans truly believe that it is their god given constitutional right to drive a gas guzzler and possess enough firearms to ward off a small army of insurgents.
It'll take $5-6/gallon or more to make most of us start thinking of "alternative" modes of getting from here to there. We'll see it within the next ten years, give or take, but I don't expect it to greatly impact our recreational habits until it cuts into our quality of life (read comfort). Just an observation...
I'm looking forward to the major manufacturers bringing diesels into the US within the next 3-5 years. Mercedes has one here already although it hasn't passed standards for Cali. New diesel tech has come so far in the past few years. I know there are still concerns with sulfur and so on but I think there getting better there too. I was back in Ireland for the holidays and drove a friends diesel Santa Fe SUV. You seriously would not know it was diesel. It was responsive and very quiet. Nissan and Honda plan to have diesel vehicles here by 2010. I'll be looking for a new vehicle around then so it will definitely be on my list to check those out. I drove a VW 1.2l diesel Polo through Spain 3 months ago. I drove 4 1/2 hours at an average of about 80mph from Madrid to Seville. I didn't have to fill it and there was still about 1/8 tank left. Not bad considering it can't have much more than 12 gallon tank, if that.
My epiphany came in during my first trip to Zermatt. A major tourist area can survive, thrive, prosper and expand without gas-guzzling cars, as a matter of fact, without cars at all.
It will also take a paradigm shift on both business and customers vis-a-vis mass transportation. For example, I can go from Geneva to Zermatt, check my bags, and bring Thunder (my Black Lab) on the train. Amtrak is geared towards a business traveler in the East and a (mainly foreigner) traveler in the transcontinental routes in the West. The rest of us seem not to count.
lbotta - How was your trip to Zermatt? I was looking on spending a few days of my honeymoon there (first week of november) and then maybe going south to the coast.
Has anyone here cut down on the number of ski trips you make due to the cost of gas?
Not directly, but I am making my money go farther (choosing more carefully what I spend $$ on.) Decided twice to not ski Whitetail since it would have cost $55 for only one blue trail. (Won't make it out to the Snowtime resorts often enough this year to justify an Advantage Card.)
All bets are off on a powder day.
But my set of wheels gets ~34 mpg highway, so the gas sticker shot is a bit less for me than the SUV drivers.
Gas at $4-$5 a gallon is the most effective way for the U.S. to become more fuel efficient and modify our lifestyle. Though that would be very painful economic transistion for many.
Has anyone here cut down on the number of ski trips you make due to the cost of gas?
Kind of. The old I-70 hop from KC to Denver to ski was/maybe remains quite popular around here, but at 3 a gallon (plus it's uphill and usually into the wind so the trip out, at least, really tears apart your gas mileage) it is MUCH cheaper to fly and get transportation from the airport. That said, that's not particularly cheap, either. So this- among other reasons- is a factor I'm considering when it comes to a potential March weekend ski trip to CO.
I remain skeptical that prices will stay high for much longer. I was reading articles in the late 1990s in Foreign Affairs arguing that oil prices would never go above 20 dollars a barrel again. People tend to see a trend and assume it's indefinite, but international politics change and commodities fluctuate, that's just how things are. Keep in mind it's not just oil, gas, coal, that's exploding price-wise. Gold, silver, wheat, etc- pretty much every commodity- is booming these days. It's like the markets are screaming inflation but it isn't happening (is it???). Certainly some substantive portion of this run-up is the weak dollar, which a lot of macroeconomists argue is tied to the poor savings rate- if the savings rate increases, the dollar will strengthen. If the dollar strengthens, oil prices will moderate.
Incidentally- gas prices at the pump are still around their record (nominal) highs. They are tied with Katrina- but oil back then was 60 a barrel. Unrefined is up almost 40 a barrel but gas prices have barely budged. Despite the lack of increased refining capacity in the U.S., we're getting product to market. Add more oil coming online over the next couple years and the prospect of slower economic growth (due to tighter credit and higher "non-core" inflation), and you could see some good reductions in oil prices over the next couple years.
Well, that's the bear argument. I've been wrong (many times) before, but I remain skeptical about oil suddenly becoming non-mean reverting. There's simply no history for it.