I just wrote this letter to one of the gasoline companies that has stations locally. Reading it afterwords, it sounds very Oliver-Twist-Please-Sir-May-I-Have-Some-More-ish, but I thought I’d post it here, get feedback, and keep you all updated on what might become of it.
My name is [ArrMatey!], and I’m not usually one to write to companies, but in light of recent events, I thought it would be appropriate.
I understand in the world as it is, the price of oil is continuously rising, and the United States’ foreign policy does little in the line to endear us to nations that would help us with oil production. However…
A few days ago my best friend couldn’t get to work; she couldn’t afford gas to get there. Luckilly, I was able to offer her a ride for the next day. I wonder, however, how bad things would’ve been if I hadn’t been able to offer.
The current price of gas is disastrously high. I know whomever I’m writing this email to likely has little power to do anything about it at all, but I’m writing anyway. Why? Because I’d like to believe that, somewhere in the company, there are people who would like to help their consumers. There are people who understand that those who live from paycheck to paycheck are being hit very, very hard by the incredible upswing in gas prices over the last year (over 80 cents a gallon in the past seven months alone), and can give some form of hope to us.
Please, I ask of you not to send me back some form-letter, or direct me to some long-winded speech about why gas prices are as they are. These things are not relief; they are frustration. I want to see your company as one that cares not only of their own bottom-line, but of those that consume your product.
I saw a news report the other night involving the gas prices. They raised the question of hybrid vehicles. It’s estimated that a driver could save up to $700 a year in gas if they had a hybrid, but yet many people purchasing new cars don’t consider getting a hybrid. Why could this be? Are they horrendously more expensive to purchase than a conventional vehicle?
I recently bought a new car to save on gas spending. We looked at a Toyota Prius and the Toyota Corolla. We would have had to wait 2-3 weeks before another Prius would have been available, and the Prius cost $7k more than the base model Corolla. I basically told my wife that $7k is an awful lot of gas money, and I know how to maintain a standard gasoline engine, but I’m unfamiliar with having an additional electric engine uinder the hood. I’m sure changing the oil etc. wouldn’t have been any different, but there would eventually be more to it that that. We got the Corolla and have been very pleased with it and we have been getting 33+ mpg even with A/C. We also wanted to look at the Scion xA but they were sold out of those too, and wouldn’t be getting them on the lot any sooner than the Prius’. Also they negoiated on the cost of the Corolla, but said they would not on the Prius or the Scion.
And how long the batteries last and how much they will cost to replace. In 2003, they couldn’t answer any of those questions. by 2004, they still didn’t know. Therefore, people I know who were looking for new cars went with the known gas engines rather than the hybrids. The local news said about 6 months ago that with the current (6 months ago) gas prices, you could start profiting form a hybrid in 7 years. Unless you had to replace a bunch of batteries at 2-3k. There is also concern about safety in accidents. Rescue personnel unfamiliar with hybrids are leery of being electrocuted as they are cutting you out of the car so they stop and look up you car to see where you batteries and power supply cut off are before they rescue you. I would love a hybrid, maybe for my next car in 8 or 10 years, but for now, I drive a resonably efficient car (OK, its an SUV) and commute by bus and combine trips and all that other stuff.
I’m sure they dipped that letter of yours into some of their expensive gasoline, lit it, and had a hearty laugh. How much of your gasoline prices are made up of taxes? You might be very surprised, and find out that you are writing to the wrong set of people altogether.
Right. I’m pretty sure some jurisdictions have provided relief in the past, and I think it’s a fair idea to do that. If gas tax revenue is over what was projected, then they should cut taxes until the price comes down. Problem is, many states are in financial hot water, and they need the revenue.
There are some benefits to higher gas prices.
People shopping for new cars will hopefully not buy SUV and other inefficient cars and hopefully will look at MPG in comparing similar cars.
It should also encourage some to purchase Hybrids.
I know no one wants to hear it, but our gas is actually cheap compared to most developed nations. (Europe & Japan are up to twice as much).
This is wonderful long range view that unfortunately does not help your friend. It is not always feasible but perhaps she can look into a carpool and mass transit.
If your friend can’t afford gas, she won’t be worried about a more efficient car; she won’t have a choice of changing vehicles.
She may need to budget out all of her expenses. Room, Board, Insurance, Utilities & Gas. If she can’t cover all this on her salary, she is going to have to make a change in her lifestyle. This unfortunately means looking at car pooling, public transport, getting roommates or getting a second job or begging for more hours.
She may need to do what many 20 year olds have done and live on Mac & Cheese and Ramen noodles for a while.
You didn’t explain her circumstances, I don’t know if she has kids to support, if she’s not in her 20’s, if there is any family to fall back on, etc.
If there are kids involved, she could get government help fairly easy. Food stamps would be an option.
I don’t think there is any prayer of your letter making any difference.
Gasoline prices in this country are low compared to the rest of the world. That being said, try talking to your Senator or Congress representative and see how far you get. The energy bill just passed gives billions (literally!) to energy companies and they get other subsidies as well.
This is the future, guys, as long as big business can continue getting their people in place to make these laws.
Indeed; here in the UK, they are just about to break the barrier of one pound (that’s rather more than a dollar and a half at the moment) per litre (that’s about a quarter of a US gallon). By my calculation, we’re paying about $6.80 a gallon.
Can a person who is described by the OP as living from paycheck-to-paycheck qualify for a $22K+ loan to buy a hybrid?
As another poster stated, there are no discounts on a hybrid which retails for $7K more than the next most economical vehicle, while the dealer will dicker over the price of next most economical vehicle and thus increase its purchase price advantage beyond $7K
At $3 a gallon, you can still get 2333.3 gallons of gas. If you can get 33mpg in a conventional car vs 50 in a hybrid and travel 18,000 miles in the first year, you’ve used 545.45 gallons vs the 360 you would have used in the hybrid and used up only $556.35 of your purchase price savings.
If you’re paying $2/100 borrowed per month, your conventional car is costing you
at least 140 less per month to finance, as well. In 4 months, the savings on the loan can pay off an entire year’s extra gas.
And, of course there’s the battery problem. They’re only warranted 8 years/100,000 miles and cost $ 2-3K to replace. No one has a straight answer to the question of how long the batteries will actually last.
At 100K miles, a well-cared-for gas engine has reached 40-50% of its useful life. When it dies, it can be rebuilt or replaced with a junkyard unit for far less than the cost of a brand-new one. That can’t be said of hybrid battery packs.
No doubt many others have run the numbers and come to the same conclusion that I have.
You are correct; right now a hybrid is a social investment not a true dollar & Cents investment.
It is similar to the solar panels I put on my roof. They will take 12 years to pay for themselves unless Electric goes by more than 3% annually. I did this because I could afford to and the more people who do so, the quicker solar will get cheaper. Same theory on Hybrids, if you can afford it, please do so, your reward will be feeling good about yourself more than the wallet.
BTW is you buy a Prius instead of a Large SUV, you will save a huge amount on gas and purchase price.
I needed to buy a new car last year, after some #@$#@%*! broke into mine and did $2500 in damage in addition to stealing my stereo.
I wanted to get a hybrid.
But, at the time, there was a long waiting list for hybrids. And it was worse if, like me, you can’t get a white or silver car because you know you’d lose it in every damn parking lot you ever parked in.
I couldn’t wait weeks or months to get a hybrid- my car window was broken, and I needed a new car right away.
zenith, my new Corolla is replacing a 4x4 SUV and after doing the math, the money we save in two months in gas alone “pays for” one payment on the car. If I can keep and drive it for 10 years, which is reasonable with a Toyota, it will have paid for itself. And I still have the 4x4 for bad weather, hunting/camping trips, towing and the occasional trip to Home Depot. All in all a good investment, especially because cars are rarely an investment and are more an expense.
I’d be incredibly offended if that were sent to me. You may indeed get a personalized response from me explaining how not only care about consumers, but how I also care about other people too and suggesting that someone running a business is heartless is very hateful indeed. Sure there are bad eggs out there, but that doesn’t mean you can paint an industry with one brush.
If you stick to responsible journalism and follow what’s happening in the gasonline industry, you will learn that the market is very competitive and operates on slim margins. Listen to how petroleum industry analysists talk about the ripple effects of refinery maintenance, or lack thereof, have on prices. Look how little changes in the price of oil brings uniform response from all the gas stations in your area. Yet in the small city where I live, there are at least seven empty gasoline stations—that’s not the sign of an industry floating on heavy profits.
So I would suggest that you put the letter aside and do some research to prove me wrong before you decide to send it.