Living With $4 Gas

The national average price for gasoline rose 9 cents over the last two weeks, beginning a surge predicted to bring $4-per-gallon prices in the coming months. The average price of self-serve regular gasoline on Friday was $3.19 a gallon, with the steepest prices in the country found in San Francisco at $3.58. Compared to a year ago, national gas prices are up 64 cents.

On Tuesday, crude oil rose to a record for a fifth day, climbing above $109 a barrel, lifting gasoline prices to record levels. The early record does not bode well for motor travel during the peak summer demand season.

According to a spate of recent surveys, the rise in gas prices is changing general consumer buying patterns—but not driving habits. A Nielson Co. survey found that 70 percent of U.S. consumers are combining around-town driving for errands and shopping, while 39 percent said they’re just staying home more often. According to a recent survey by Kelley Blue Book, 44 percent of consumers said they’re eating out less to offset the additional money they’re spending on gas. Forty percent said they’re cutting back on entertainment spending, and 9 percent said they’re delaying the purchase of a new home.

A survey by the Automotive Aftermarket Industry Association sets a tipping point at $4 gas, when 65 percent of American drivers said they would change their driving behavior. But some analysts believe that $4 prices at the pump must be sustained for a long period in order to yield significant changes. Art Spinella of CNW, a market research firm, said, “People are very, very capable of absorbing $3 gas into the family budget. If it’s a spike, they can do it at $4,” he said. “But if it lasts for six months or more, it will be very difficult to absorb into household income.”

Bob Schnorbus, chief economist at J. D. Power & Associates echoed that sentiment, suggesting that consumers have not yet fled larger vehicles. He told U.S. News and World Report, “If $4 gas is only short-term, people will do what they’ve been doing the last five years: complain but keep on buying.”

In the past five years, hybrid sales have grown from 38,000 in 2002 to 350,000 in 2007—but remain less than three-percent of the new car market.


  • Andreas

    welcome America to the real word…..
    if I did the conversion right, right now 1 gal of premium (95oct) is about 8.32 US$ here in Germany. People have complained how expensive gas is/was/will be, but until today not much changed except of 50% Diesel engines, compared to 20% some years ago. So no whining.

  • Gerald Shields

    Yeah Andreas, we can’t whine or complain. We can only do something about it by coming up with a viable alternative to the ICE.

  • Mike J

    Andreas- The problem is most of your price of gas goes into taxes which then fund your unbelivable train system which you have as an alternative menthod of transportation. Here in the US the taxes are much, much smaller and the mass transportation is not up to European standards.

  • Jeff

    I would agree that we need a much better mass transit system in the US and that we should tax the heck out of gas to pay for it but the real problem it stupidity. When people will put off the purchase of a home so they can continu to buy gas things are a bit insane. Buy a home near you work location and walk. Then you can afford a home, pollute less and stay healthy. How simple is that.

  • TD

    Not everyone can afford a home close to where they work. If you’re unfortunate enough to live in the LA area, a person making $30-50K a year cannot afford a million dollar home. Getting people to live closer can help, but its not always in the cards for a lot of people. Most people would rather live closer to work, but if it comes down to having a decent home and suffering with traffic and high gas costs people will make that decision in favor of the home. Also, financially it makes no sense to pay 2-3 times as much on a house to save a hundred bucks a month on gas.

    It takes time for changes on large purchase price items, durable goods, like cars to work their way through the markets. If you go out and buy a new steam washer and high efficiency dryer for $2500 you can save yourself maybe $15 a month on electricity. Are you going to make that purchase immediately or wait until your current washer wears out? Its the same with cars. People are buying fewer large vehicles. If people were still buying large vehicles then Detroit would not be in trouble. It will take 4 or 5 years to see a significant change in the number of large vehicles on the road.

  • mlhm5

    There is no public transportation in the US except city buses and basically one high speed (for the USA) rail service between Boston, NY and DC.

    Maybe it is not $4 a gallon that moves the nation to rebuilding the network of public transportation that once existed, but it is coming at higher prices.

    For the $3 trillion we spent in Iraq (all costs in) we could have built a nationwide rail system that would have no equal, instead we have one that Bulgaria would be ashamed of.

  • Peter

    This article should be called “Celebrating $4 Gas.”

    Only if we have $8-10 per gallon will Americans start to change their ways and consider ending their juvenile fantasy with oversized vehicles. If this is what it takes for people to conserve, fantastic!

    Americans have no real concern about global warming and if gas drops back to $1 per gallon they will all be rushing out to get the latest SUV.

    Free-market capitalism at its best…

  • uktiger

    Andreas and Gerald,

    A more efficient ICE is on the way. It is an inexpensive turbine with 10KW per KG and efficiency around 50%.

  • Hal Howell

    Wow! Why didn’t we all think of that??? If only it were that simple. How many people would like to live next to a sanitation plant, next to Cape Canaveral, or downtown DC or… well you get the point, I hope. That sounds good until you try to put into practice. Even public transportation doesn’t solve things. My place of work, a prison is 10 miles out of town. How much public transportation do you think we get out there? Sorry, kiddo, we have cars for a reason and that is to allow people to get where they need to be.

  • Hal Howell

    I really love it when liberals talk about the war. I guess you forgot about 9/11/01. Iraq is an attempt to prevent another 9/11. Which is working. Yes, it would be nice to have spent 3 trillion dollars of something more productive. However, public transportation can’t be used by dead people. Security is the First order of business for any government. In case you have forgotten, Osama wants to kill all of us. He hasn’t given up on that one and neither have his friends. Sleep tight!!!

  • Hal Howell

    Peter, I’m sorry you haven’t received the latest memo on Global Warming. We’re now in Global Cooling. This last year’s temperature erased all the heat gains since 1966. Global Warming is so 2006! Get with the program…

  • Armand

    Mike…

    Taxes here are NOT much much smaller…we pay about the same amount of tax overall…but we get NOTHING in return….it’s a real nice system this fake democratic system we have here…biggest suckers in the world.

  • Armand

    Howel,

    Get a life. If after all this you still don’t see how this whole 9/11 thing was fabricated, then put your head back INTO the sand and forget about it.

    I honestly can’t believe someone would actually still say crap like this. And I’ll bet you get your news from Fox right?

    Please…your stupid beliefs are already way out of wack with reality. Iraq had nothing to do with 9.11. We’ve fked up more countries and destroyed more lives with our arrogant “manifest destiny” bullshit than any other country in the modern world.

    So let’s see…you expect me to believe 4 aircraft (of which all 4 being aircraft is highly debatable), synchronized together to hit buildings 100′s of miles apart near the same time, all done by 19 people, hijacking with knife-cutters, two of which bring down two of the tallest buildings in the world…within their own footprint, after a mere hour or two of burning, falling flat into their own footprint (all 1100ft), the 3rd hitting the ground with no body remains, the 4th hitting the Pentagon, the most highly guarded building in the US with stinger carrying soldiers on the roof, with what’s more forensic evidence of the crash clearly showing it’s not even a freaking 757 that hit the building….ALL that…a multimillion dollar operation masterminded, paid for, executed, coordinated, etc…by some guy in a cave in Afghanistan WHO happened to work for is in the 80′s?

    GET FUCKING REAL.

  • babu flubber

    Noz, I’m looking forward to reading your explanation for 9/11. It’s very easy to poke holes in the theories of others. What’s yours?

  • Boom Boom

    Hal, Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11. No connection has ever been established between Saddam and Al-Queda. Iraq is not making us safer, at least that is what our own intelligence services tell us.

    Noz, 9/11 was a tragedy committed by madmen. It was not a conspiracy. We do not need to deny the fact that there are Islamic militants who want to kill us do make the argument that Hal is full of BS.

    As gas gets more expensive, we’re going to be forced to change our driving habits This is not a result of liberal socialists trying to engineer our behavior. These are market forces at work. This is a results of the global free market that is, according to the proponents, going to save us all.

    Cheap gas is a thing of the past, whether you like it or not.

  • domboy

    Well Noz, I’m not sure about most of our rantings, but one thing is for sure, the two Skyscrapers were indeed destroyed. I’ve been to NYC twice, the first time they were there, the second time they were not… a big hole in the ground instead. So that much isn’t a conspiracy.

  • Pumpkin

    Ok, I have heard a lot of dumb things in my life, but I hate when people get the fact all wrong.

    Fact: Al-Queda wasn’t in Iraq until we went in there.
    Fact: There was no conspiracy, these men were a group of extremist and no matter what you do, you will not be able to kill them all, because most of them aren’t even in Iraq.
    Fact: The US was totally unprepared to go into Iraq in the first place and they are still unorganized.
    Fact: The war is one of the reasons that gas is so D*MN high. Think about it, how do you think they power the vehicles? DUH…
    Fact: Even with the war going on, the United States could still make better public transportation. The problem is that they keep wasting money in Iraq. They literally can’t account for 100′s of millions of dollars that is supposedly suppose to be spent in Iraq.

    My point is, gas doesn’t have to be so high. Unfortunately for everyone, there are too many lobbyist in the white house right now that are profiting significantly off this war. Even the Vice-President use to own one of the contracting companies still in Iraq. Think about it people, know the facts…

  • Armand

    What theory do you want to hear, the one that it was clearly demolished?

    Any structural engineer who has any respect for himself/herself and knows anything about structures and how they fall will without a doubt confirm that.

    It’s so obvious it’s painful.

    I won’t bother typing up 10 pages to tell you…the information is all out there. Just do some research…and try and find legitimate sites and credible people. There are, admittedly, alot of crackpot explanations of what happened that day…but one explanation that is painfully obvious engineering and physics-wise is that those buildings were systematically brought down.

    It’s not the first time a government has conducted a false flag operation and it won’t be the last.

  • Armand

    DOM:

    I never said it didn’t happen. I’m not sure where you even got that from.

  • GR
  • yo

    No one cares about the greenhouse gases and whateve. Its America, we want a big powerful, fast car. If the automakers would just step it up and make a big, powerful and fast alternative fuel powered car (or more importantly truck/SUV) people would buy it. Of coarse theyd need the gas stations too but ya.

  • Anonymous

    Boom Boom:

    “Hal, Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11.”

    This is true. What is also true, however, is that no such connection was ever asserted as part of the reason for the invasion.

    “No connection has ever been established between Saddam and Al-Queda.”

    This is absolutely NOT true. The 9/11 Commission did in fact report that there were connections between Saddam and Al-Quaeda. Since the release of the report, the focus of the deniers has been to try to minimize the importance of this connection. But it is no longer asserted by anyone with any credibility that there was no connection.

    “Iraq is not making us safer, at least that is what our own intelligence services tell us.”

    This also seems to be false. Terrorists from around the world who would otherwise be conducting operations against US interests elsewhere converged on Iraq after the invasion. Most have died there trying to destroy what we have built. This raises the important question if what we’ve done in Iraq was so insignificant or even harmful to US interests, why was it so important to these terror organizations to try to stop it?

    Anyway, I know that this was off topic (as was the original comment), but I see an awful lot of people (more now than ever with the election coming) who fervently believe things that simply aren’t true.

  • Anonymous

    Did anyone notice the adjacent sentences, in the same paragraph, directly contradicting one another?

    “According to a spate of recent surveys, the rise in gas prices is changing general consumer buying patterns—but not driving habits.”

    …immediately followed by:

    “A Nielson Co. survey found that 70 percent of U.S. consumers are combining around-town driving for errands and shopping, while 39 percent said they’re just staying home more often.”

    IE 70% of consumers have changed their driving habits.

  • AMERICAN IDIOT

    To me, society cares nothing about the environment. They are penny polluters. They can afford it. Who cares about the extension of man? That is nothing. It has been done before. Mother Earth will be here long after the ego driven me society has vanished. Man has never shown the ability to make change very fast.

    Hell, if it ain’t going to get it done tonight, i don’t care. Just give me my beer. Let me watch trash television. Get the wisdom of the average me society? It is not the problems we have that are going to make us go away and leave the environment alone. The reason we are going to die is the apathetic and complacent people.

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