We already have a cost effective, fuel efficient car (paid for, 30+MPG). Given the tax issues people have had with biodiesel and woodgas conversions I think we'll stay away from alternative fuels for now.
If gas prices continue to rise I would prefer to continue with a used, cost effective car (not bleeding edge fuel economy and a lot less expensive) and focus on my other fuel bills (home heating, electricity) instead. I can make those changes without running foul of the IRS and the ROI is a lot quicker than a Prius or Volt.
I will certainly stay home more, shop less, buy less, and watch the spiral down to oblivion as prices continue to rise. I already make more careful choices when I drive as the expense is painful. That can't be good for the economy, especially since there is gobs of energy left untapped. And electric is no good, as electricity is so expensive, as well.
I think Fred Flintstone had it right 100,000 years ago!
Chuck, I agree that the bottom line is that many consumers have apparently reached a tipping point in terms of vehicle selection and gas prices. Nothing drives technology change like market forces and the movement of $$$.
First off, Chuck, with those high gas prices, people would probably drive less, which would dampen demand and bring the cost down. The high gas prices would also fuel (so to speak) more exploration and extraction technologies (as we've seen in recent years). All of that would increase supply and bring down gas prices. When it comes down to it, high gas prices cannot be sustained -- as odd as that may sound.
I agree, Louis, diesels burn clean, get better mileage and are a solid choice. One of the truly odd results of this study, however, was the fact that only 15% of respondents considered diesel engines as an alternative, but 18% considered...hydrogen fuel cells. When I first saw that, I did a doubletake. For me, this is an indication that some of the respondents really didn't know anything about alternative powertrains. In a sense, it may tell us something: A lot of people have no idea what they'd do if gas prices hit $8 or $10 per gallon.
While it's understandable that consumers would be more likely to consider a hybrid if gas spiked, the cost of oil may not rise as quickly as we once thought. Ironically, the melting artic ice is opening new areas for considerable oil pumping. I wonder whether a series of hot summers might change the reluctance of American consumers to embrace more profound green changes that could boost hybrid sales.
Well we bought the hybrid 11 years ago, when its finally time to replace it, I expect that we will buy a plug in hybrid, or a pure electric. (our normal useage patterns would still fit with the prius 15 miles pure electric, I expect the gasoline would be in the tank long enough that deteroation might be a real concern).
But for most day to day use, I would make an even larger mode shift to human power. I would add a trailer to handle the volume of a typical grocery run, and it would be the prod I need to finish building a velomobile (a fully enclosed, 3 wheeled biycle) for use during the snow season. (should we still have those in future). I have had the steel cut for the frame for more than a decade, haven't gotten around to finish building the jig to hold it together while I weld it together.
The bigger problem with a hike in fuel prices will be what it does to the cost of food. A lot of fuel goes into that hamburger, and not just shipping it from farm to table.
I would still put safety first - but that is the "mom" in me...that said, I just went from a 2005 Sport Trac (which I looked very good driving to the barn I might add) to a 1997 Lumina - not sexy but much more fuel efficient. We just came back from a 1000 mile round trip visit to see family and couldn't be more pleased with the gas mileage, especially after having travelled it in the Sport Trac. We actually took a hit to sell the Sport Trac but felt it well worth it.
I think I would be more prone to evaluating driving habits and see where I could improve rather than going to a different technology, but then I am one that wants to see things thoroughly tested and out there awhile before using it myself. My other suggestion which I personally favor is riding my horse for transportation but if the drought keeps up, the price of hay will be greater than the cost of gasoline!
Its only in the past 2 years that regulatory changes cleaned up (sulfur removed) our diesel fuel supply enough to make it possible to make a 50 state passenger emission legal machine. (large trucks don't have to meet the same standards). If you couldn't sell a model to the single biggest car market (California) most vendors weren't willing to spend the money to certify. (only VW bothered)
One reason for some of the mileage increase over a gas engine is the fuel. While a diesel is indeed a more efficient engine, the real gain is that diesel fuel has a higher energy content (20%) by volume than gasoline, even higher in places where they get to spike it with 10% ethanol.
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