Gasoline plea

What are you hoping to come of this letter? Do you expect Chevron (or whatever company) to cut 50 cents off of the price of a gallon of gas? Or are you asking if they’d send this poor woman a gift card for $25 worth of gas? Or do you just want to make your feelings known?

Your letter would probably have more effect if you asked for something, rather than simply giving a polite scolding for something that, in all honesty, oil companies cannot control. As powerful as Exxon and Shell may be, I don’t think that they can manipulate the world market price of oil down on a whim.

There are other people who deserve letters more, and who would be more able to help:

Dear City Planners: Why do you design cities and suburbs that are impossible to get around without automobiles?

Dear Whatever Authority is Responsible for Public Transit: Can you please make it more efficient for me to live my life using public transit? It doesn’t make any sense that my workplace takes an hour and a half to get to on public transit and only 20 minutes in a car.

Dear North American Automakers: Can you please develop hybrids and other alternatives to the current gas-guzzlers that are readily available and affordable? I think it’s within your power to, but you don’t really ‘get’ that the price of oil isn’t going to go down. You should get it by now. The Japanese are on it. You guys need to catch up.

Dear Traffic Law Enforcers: Can you please have a word with the ignorant and automobile-centric drivers, and ignorant and careless cyclists, that make the city streets too dangerous for me to ride my bicycle on?

Dear Colleagues: Can we come up with a car pool system so that we don’t each have to drive our own cars in every day?

Dear Employer: Can you make sure that people who use transportation options that aren’t automobiles aren’t being treated at a disadvantage? If you offer parking and/or gas subsidies to employees who drive, shouldn’t you also offer secure bike parking, improved facilities like showers and lockers, subsidized transit passes, and so on, for people who bike or bus in? While you’re at it, can you seriously consider telecommuting options so that we don’t all have to come in to work every day to sit behind a desk?

Amen! I find it annoying as hell that even if I should choose to walk to the train station, there isn’t a sidewalk for part of the way. I’m an adult, I don’t want to have to walk through grass/mud in my shoes. I know the developers will always get their way and not have to put in sidewalks, but it is stuff like this which drives me crazy.

As most Canadians know, Calgary is a huge oil-and-gas town, and it is totally not built for anything but driving. The transit system is a joke for a city this size. There are places where I have tried to walk a couple of blocks to not have to drive, and I physically could not walk there. All the points you make are excellent, and basically ignored in this gas-powered town.

What makes me even more incensed is the lip-service Calgary pays to energy efficiency and current causes like that, but doesn’t back them up with actions. You want people to use transit more - quit hiking fares by 30%. Have buses running evenings and weekends, especially to industrial areas where shift workers have no choice but to drive. They’re finallly getting around to increasing the train lines that should have been extended and increased a decade ago.

And telecommuting - can’t keep your thumb on the employees if they’re not physically in the office, you know.

Tell me about it. My folks live under a kilometer from an enormous shopping mall. The mall is popular because it’s at the intersection of two major highways.

You might expect that it would be possible to walk to the mall. Well, you might, if you were a fool without a car. It’s dangerous and enormously inconvenient. You start out about fifty feet from the mall, but because of medians and parking lots and dividers you have to walk around three parking lots (along a six-lane thoroughfare) and through two more to get to the damnable thing.

And it’s the only place in Toronto I wouldn’t even consider cycling to. I’d be terrified.

I think I’m being misunderstood.

I did not write this letter to scold, or to ask for a hand out. I wrote it to, hopefully, open a dialogue. It’s the reason I asked to be spared a form letter. I really -do- want to talk this out with someone who can speak for their company. If it didn’t come off that way, well… Not much I can do about it now.

I don’t think you’re being misunderstood. I think you misunderstand the economics of the situation. It costs money to obtain petroleum. You might have noticed some goings-on in the Middle East that have affected both supply and demand lately. I think the gas companies are entitled to some profit for their effort to pump, ship and process petroleum. I assure you that the recent 80 cent increases in gasoline have added virtually nothing to their profit margins. It represents an increase in the price of crude. Cost just touched $65 per barrel – a record for price compared to around $17/barrel in 2001. By the way, since a Barrel is 42 gallons, that means it costs over $1.50 simply to obtain the crude oil, before shipping, refining and distrubution as gasoline.

This site offers an interesting look at oil prices correlated with various world events as well as a history of oil production.

It would be a lot more productive to do as cowgirl suggests and think globally but act locally. Your own efforts to organize ridesharing would have 1,000 times the impact on your friend, and have the added benefit of reducing demand.

But what a profit margin!

Actually, the Prius battery is warranteed for 10 years / 150,000 miles in California (and some other states)


The Prius battery (and the battery-power management system) has been designed to maximize battery life. In part this is done by keeping the battery at an optimum charge level - never fully draining it and never fully recharging it. As a result, the Prius battery leads a pretty easy life. We have lab data showing the equivalent of 180,000 miles with no deterioration and expect it to last the life of the vehicle. We also expect battery technology to continue to improve: the second-generation model battery is 15% smaller, 25% lighter, and has 35% more specific power than the first. This is true of price as well. Between the 2003 and 2004 models, service battery costs came down 36% and we expect them to continue to drop so that by the time replacements may be needed it won’t be a much of an issue. Since the car went on sale in 2000, Toyota has not replaced a single battery for wear and tear.

There was a 2003 (or older) Prius taxi that had 200,000 miles with no battery problems.

Any the electrocurted emergeny worker issue is bogus. quote:
High-voltage cables are located away from areas that workers might access, are painted orange, are shrouded in metal and have specific automatic disablement mechanisms to ensure the lines would have no voltage in them if an accident occurs.

The Prius isn’t perfect but I hate when people bring up falsities

A lab environment is not real life. It’s not Minnesota winter or Arizona summer.
When we get more than just one anecdote about a 200,000 mile battery in an isolated Prius, my skepticism will abate.

For now, I’d say the best bet is to get the highest-mileage conventional car that meets your needs.

There was something bothering me about this statement, and my husband put his finger on it for me. If the O&G companies are (for example) making a 10% profit, they’re making a piss-pile more money on profit from 10% of $1 billion than they are from 10% of $1 million.

Yes, but the price of crude has more than tripled since 2001. Has the price of gas more than tripled? Nope (not yet at least) – it’s doubled-and-some. Ergo, they must be making less profit as a percent of sales than in 2001.

Obviously, they are making plenty of moolah. But they haven’t raised gas prices 80 cents just so they could go swimming in piles of money like Scrooge McDuck.

If I was the person at the oil company that read the letter, I would register here and post it in one of the “Idiot Customer” threads that are always in the Pit. The OP seems to lack even a 7th grader’s unstanding of the most basic economics.

Many first responders will disagree with you.

So when you are trapped inside a crushed Prius, do you really want the firefighter to have read a manual about the location of the cables before he fires up the chop saw or the jaws of life?

Aren’t oil companies posting record profits? MSNBC says so, as does the BBC.

It kinda looks like they CAN “go swimming in piles of money like Scrooge McDuck”.

And yet Bush and the 'Publican Congress all agree they need billions more in subsidies from the new energy bill the President just signed:

Take a look at European petrol prices for June. Granted, the data is a couple of months old, but if you compare the European prices to the US price, you’ll see that we are riding relatively easy.

I drive a minivan “Mommy car”, but we’re making the last payment on it this month. I’m seriously considering getting a little car to commute in, to cut down on gas expenditures. (I get about 18mpg in the city, but I spent $35 on my last fill-up, and I generally have to fill it up every 5-6 days.)

My husband has a Toyota Corolla that gets 30-35mpg in the city, but 40mpg on the highway. Guess which car we’re using for trips when we don’t need to lug camping gear with us??? I also try to drive his car for any long-distance errands I need to run on weekends. But since he has a farther commute than I do, it makes sense for him to use the car with the higher gas mileage on a daily basis.

Is it the Fairview Mall, near the 401/404 intersection by any chance? I have a friend who lives pretty much right across the street from there.

I see your logic, but O&G companies aren’t in it for their health; here in Alberta and Saskatchewan, they are exploring and drilling at what seem to be prodigious rates. In my experience, O&G’s don’t do that when the profits aren’t sky-high. (What they do is cut salaries and staff, but that’s a whole 'nother Pit thread.)

Oh, by the way, I work in O&G taxes. I’m not just talking hypotheticals. I’m the one actually entering in the assessments for all the new wells.

Its interesting that you mention that. I have thought that it will soon become very important from a political and PR perspective for an oil company (and/or president) to declare that they are highly involved in/supportive of domestic and allied-North American drilling (in other words “reduce reliance on foreign oil” is going to make a big comeback politically soon, I think)

It’s just a feeling I have though. IANAPolitical Economist. IAA Marketing professional, however. :slight_smile: