Sunday, May 25, 2008

Hunter's new ride

My son Hunter graduated high school on Thursday. He wants to do something in business and presumably make a ton of dough. Since business is the agenda, I suggested (insisted) that he take an AP Stats class his senior year. Hunter protested, complained, said it was too hard, threatened to drop... and got a B.

Hunter turns 18 on Tuesday and wants to go to NAU in the fall. Last year I promised him the same deal I gave Nelson when Nels got my old Toyota T100 as a graduation present. At the time I booked out the T100 to get an idea of how much this promise was going to cost.

As we spent the last month or two looking for vehicles, I noticed that all the trucks and SUVs Hunter suggested were about twice the budget I allowed. Hmmm. I kept looking anyway. Last weekend I found a truck online that looked perfect: original owner, less than 100K miles, all maintenance records, etc. It was also within "the budget". So I called and we went to look last Sunday.

Although not perfect by any means -- it was repainted marginally well, the dash is horribly cracked, the stereo is convinced that a (phantom) tape is inserted at all times, the door locks are broken -- it started immediately, ran great, and sounded bitchin'. So I put a deposit down and we picked it up last Tuesday.

What does this have to do with DBI?

Well, everyone who sees it immediately notices that I bought Hunter a BIG truck. Yep. And I'm concerned about the environmental impact of driving, so I run biodiesel. Yep. And this 4x4 pig is thirteen years old, runs gas, and gets (optimistically and according to the EPA) 10 mpg city, 14 highway. Yep.

See, he has to fill it up. He got a truck, not a gas card. And with gas approaching $4.00/gal, and a 35 gallon tank, it will cost nearly $140.00 to fill the damn thing. How much driving is an 18 year old going to do when it takes 14 hours of work to fill his truck? Once! Sure, we need vehicles on the road that get better mileage. But more importantly, wherever feasible, we need to drive less. And a NAU freshman doesn't need to drive much at all. So Hunter got the truck he "needed", the one I promised, and now it's his problem. Maybe he'll even start reading the blog :-)

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Another month of record fuel prices

It's been kind of a rude awakening the past few weeks, seeing the price of petrol diesel continue its upward spiral. According to this story in the New York Times demand for gasoline actually decreased since the beginning of the year, and miles driven dropped by the largest month-on-month (March) margin (4.3%) since record keeping began in 1942. And yet the cost of gasoline (and more dramatically, diesel) has continued to rise.

According to the Energy Information Administration:
Based on projections of weak economic growth and record high crude oil and product prices, consumption is projected to decline by 190,000 bbl/d in 2008 [...] After accounting for projected increases in ethanol use, U.S. petroleum consumption is projected to fall by 330,000 bbl/d.

So if demand is falling, why are prices rising dramatically?
World oil consumption is projected to grow by 1.2 million bbl/d in 2008. Almost all of the growth in 2008 is expected to come from the non-Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries, led by China, Middle East oil producing countries, and Russia, as well as Brazil and India [...]

more than offsetting any decline in demand in the US.

Bummer for us. Of course, it's also great for us. Fuel prices are starting to more directly affect individual driving decisions, consumer vehicle preferences, and therefore auto manufacturer's vehicle production. Business Week reports:
Ford Motor (F) is cutting its production of its one-time cash cows, pickups and SUVs, to instead increase production of smaller and more fuel-efficient cars.

And the New York Times reports:
With technical and environmental hurdles overcome — and facing tougher mileage standards that call for a 35 m.p.g. average by 2020 — automakers are rushing in with clean-diesel cars.