Few Americans Celebrating Lower Gas Prices

Retail gasoline prices dropped for the 34th consecutive day on Tuesday, hitting a summer low of $3.73 per gallon. Since reaching an all-time high of $4.11 per gallon in July, prices have fallen by more than 9 percent, reflecting a cool-down in crude oil speculation and lower than expected demand during the summer driving months.

Despite its recent decline, on average, gas is still nearly a dollar per gallon more expensive than it was last year—leaving little room (or money) for celebration. Record prices kept many Americans closer to home this summer. According to a recent Harris Interactive poll, 38 percent of those who chose to take vacations within 200 miles of their homes did so because of higher gas prices.

Does a 9 percent downswing in gas prices spell the end of high demand for Priuses, or a cool down in automakers’ race to build the next great fuel efficient car? Probably not. While some data indicates a slight drop off in the public’s interest in hybrids, a decline of 35 cents per gallon won’t do much to slow down interest in fuel-sipping technologies—mostly because the sting of high prices earlier this year is still being felt, and the lack of viable transportation alternatives.

According to the Harris poll, only 7 percent of Americans take public transportation to work, with only 4 percent carpooling. Given the cost, difficulty, and construction time associated with improving—and in many cases building from scratch—local public transportation infrastructure, it’s unlikely that the United States will cease to be a car culture anytime soon.

The respective supply and demand curves in auto and gasoline markets are squeezing Americans between declining gas prices, reduced consumption (on pace to decline for the first time in 17 years), sustained interest in smaller cars, and rising nerves about when the price of gasoline could spike above $4 once again. With the auto market in a state of flux and concerns about the health of the economy reaching levels not seen in nearly two decades, Consumers will likely gravitate toward vehicles that provide the best gas mileage at the lowest sticker price.


  • Shines

    Only $3.73? What a bargain!
    I think I’ll pull my Hummer out of the garage and fill ‘er up…
    Right…
    So now we are starting to see the side effects of the higher fuel prices. Inflation everywhere else.
    I can finally afford to drive to Target, but I can’t afford to buy anything there.

  • Armand

    Shine…

    I still see more than my share of idiots still out there with high powered cars and SUVs like the Hummer still exhibiting high levels of douchebaggery.

    Perhaps the ludicrous obesity problem haunting this country with all the self-righteous fools with 4 kids and a huge suburban will actually lose weight now. They might actually have to take walks with their children…instead of sticking them in the back with a DVD screen on the way to Walmart.

  • Bryce

    hey…………..

    I like Wal-mart

    lol

  • Armand

    By the way…I just started a new blog that I thought would be fun to attract people here and elsewhere to debate about interesting issues today.

    Here’s the link:

    http://rawpoly.blogspot.com/

  • Anonymous

    wait till the gas goes to $5 and above next summer. People will be hunting for hybrids again

  • Anonymous

    wait till the gas goes to $5 and above next summer. People will be hunting for hybrids again

  • Bryce

    the summer hybrid buying season…..lol

  • Gerald Shields

    And there you have it. The solution to high oil and gas prices? Just say no. Stop using petro and stop using petro-based products wherever and whenever possible.

  • Jeff

    Not sure where they are getting their pricing info from. It has not dropped below $4.30 a gallon in my neck of the woods and is not likely to.

    People who looked at more efficient cars earlier and are now looking elsewhere because the price of gas is down are the same idiots who helped get us into the sub-prime problems and all the BS in the stock market.

    Until we all start thinking beyond our own petty desires our nation will continue to cry about all the problems rather than doing something real to address them.

  • Anonymous

    Looks like that drop was short lived. Check the commodities market- oil is up $6 today.

  • Armand

    Gerald Shields says:
    2 hours ago

    And there you have it. The solution to high oil and gas prices? Just say no. Stop using petro and stop using petro-based products wherever and whenever possible.

    PROBLEM IS…you can’t. Just about everything you touch has petro-chemical products. We have used this resource blinding…with no regard to sustainability and replacement of it.

  • Bryce

    You can actually make plastics out corn starches (and they are developing non-food based ones too) Google it.

  • Baltimore Prius Owner

    Bryce,

    Keep up the great posts (the serious ones and the funny ones).

  • Bryce

    um, I think you are not being sarcastic……in which case, thanks! : )

    But in all seriousness, the plant based plastics thing was amazing. I watched in on the news the other day. They actually have it already in production in what looked like Glad-ware containers. Maybe we will start seeing them in super markets.

    On another completely unrelated note, production information and photos of the new Chevy Cruze (Cobalt replacement) were released this morning and it looks gorgeous. Add the 45ish mpg, and it will most certainly be the subject of my wet dreams. : )

    here is a link:

    http://jalopnik.com/5039849/chevy-cruze-gets-full-detail-reveal-before-paris-unveil

  • Anon Imus

    Here in the suburbs of Chicago, gas prices are not falling much at all. Still hovering in the high $3.90′s for regular (87 OCT), with midlevel and premium still well over $4. Needless to say, my interest in better gas mileage has not waned. No matter how far the prices drop, I won’t forget this visit to Gougeville courtesy of… whoever is responsible.

  • Tom

    Interesting story one of the questions is what the price of gas will be in 2010 when the car is introduced. Well guess what, if we KNEW it would be AT least $4.00 there would be a stampede for Ni Li or any other hybrid or clean diesels that they could make us.

    Thomas Friedman of the NYT suggested a few years ago keeping gas at a certain level, pick a number $3 $4 $5 so that there would not be a ‘lull’ downswing and false sense of security. That is keep the price high to send a message to the American consumer that this is forever.

    One of his articles talked about Denmark ‘FLUSH WITH ENERGY’ After the 1972 OPEC Oil Crisis, they did more than ridicule Jimmy Carter. They have gas at $9 or $10 per gallon now and guess what they all have fuel efficient cars and are ENERGY RICH, producing 20% of the Wind Turbines in the world.

    No American Politician would be so bold as to advocate for such a tax for the simple reason that the short sighted American Voter would slam her or him for such a FAR sighted idea.

    BTW
    I have ridden my bike to work every day the last month or so as my wife has taken over my pruis and I do not want to drive the Highlander SUV!!

    http://www.nytimes.com/2008/08/10/opinion/10friedman1.html?_r=1&oref=slogin

  • Bryce

    interesting idea, but I doubt it would ever fly.

  • Tom

    Why?

    Because there are too many who think we are in the 1950s with flush oil, and we can drill our way to independence.

    Because there are too many who think that with 4% of the oil reserves and 25% of the consumption we can still be in control

    Because there are too many who think that conservation is a wimpy thing to do.

    Humans understand sticks and carrots.

    Give a $2000 tax break for a hybrid at the same time you give $5 gas and see what happens

    Tom

  • Samie

    Tom good ideas and u are right on about our consumption rates but don’t you think that there should be some social responsibility in that statement. Seems like a good idea say if I have a BMW V10 make 100K but say what if I’m a waitress drive a 93 Escort and make minimum wage. Poorer folks disposable incomes shrink w/ higher gas prices and you often see the sad stories about families choosing gas over food. I have debated with myself the role of conservation, taxes on consumers or industry but it’s just my option that it comes down to the industry making better vehicles. Problems will continue to surface and thats why we need to up CAFE and see more responsibility in luxury cars, high end SUV’s and Trucks that don’t need V8s (Diesel or V6 instead)

  • Bryce

    It is sad to see an idea meant to benefit us actually hurt those who really needed the most help. If some thing sounds extreme and unacceptable, think about it, it may be so because there are many that would be hurt…..and not necesarily just rich folks, but the little guys too. (we all use the same gas and eat the same food. So calm down on all of these crazy taxes and whatnot. The market is currently taking care of it and I don’t see it going way down anytime soon.)

  • Denny with a Prius

    Samie,

    In regards to lower income households, please look into the option of public transportation. Typically, lower income families live in denser, urban populations where buses are available. I year long bus pass has to be cheaper than the amount of gas per year driving to/from work and maintainence on the vehicle. America has reliable public transportation. I am not too proud to use it. Individuals just need to plan accordingly for the commute time.

    Recpectfully,

    Denny

  • Samie

    Denny I try to share your thoughts on this but sometimes it is a hassle to ride public transportation. If you live near a bus route it can be a blessing but I don’t think its fair for people to assume that people in urban cities should use public transportation exclusively. I would like to challenge anyone to use a bus and say your local grocery store is what 7min away (drive time) so I wait for a bus get to the store 15-20min then I have 1-2 weeks of groceries that I need wc maybe hard to carry to the bus and the frozen food and cold stuff sets on a non air conditioned bus while you wait to get home. Sounds silly to most who have a car but these are everyday struggles for people who have to use public transportation all the time. Not saying that public transportation is bad it just means you have to slow down and be careful of your time sensitive schedules. I use to ride the streetcar in New Orleans to go to and from school and get around town so I know what its like and the hassles that comes with it. My point goes back to Tom why incentive one group or area over another?

    By the way Bryce I shared the same view as you in your earlier post but not sure where or who you directed the comment about crazy taxes to. I just want to see even higher CAFE standards for ALL vehicles domestic or foreign not sure if you think that’s a form of a tax. Could be argued as one :) And I would say the CAFE legislation passed last year has already forced the industry to start changing to future mandates. Is that bad? I’m skeptical of companies like GM who want to have a public perception of being green with the new Volt but turn around kick and scream lobby with millions of dollars against the new CAFE standards. Sorry Bryce thats my rant. :( But regulation is need some times to give just a little push towards the future :)

  • Bryce

    Some regulation is always good. I am happy that the meat I buy at the store is regulated. Toyota was right along side GM though in congress on trying to keep CAFE standards low.

  • mymom

    U SUCKZ
    MMMK BYE