The High Cost of Gasoline

by : Gavin Aims

One thing is certain; the way we look at our use of the automobile in North America is changed forever. We have enjoyed the convenience and simplicity of travel be it short or long distances. Just jump in turn the key and go. Fill the tank of our minivan or SUV, pack the kids and off you go on a cross country vacation. Not anymore I'm afraid. Fuel, while rising has not been a major concern however as of late it has and will change everything. With the price of oil tipping at $140.00 a barrel something has got to give. And it has.

GM is closing production lines, again. As a matter of fact all major North American manufacturers are dramatically scaling down operations as a direct result of the high cost of fuel.

While Gasoline and Diesel account for the majority of consumption there are alternatives. Honda has recently announced it is shipping it's new hydrogen powered FCX Clarity model to US ( primarily California) over the next couple years. This vehicle is powered by a hydrogen fuel cell which means zero emissions. It exhausts only water into the air. That's a really good thing. The bad news is that Honda will only ship 300 or so of the Clarity and only under lease at a cost of about $600.00 per month. Most of these in the L.A. area where there are three existing hydrogen refueling stations. While the car has a range of 270 mile per tank, you can't stray too far off the refilling track. That's fine as I see it most of these will be used as commuter vehicles in large urban areas like L.A. where most of greenhouse emissions are created.

GM is also expected release it's Chevy Volt which uses the E-Flex Propulsion system which is basically lithium-ion batteries and a small onboard generator that will kick in only when needed and charge the battery. You can expect about 40 kilometers in between chartings. Again, perfect for the urban commute.

So what do the rest of us do meanwhile? I am determined to lessen my own fossil fuel footprint over the next few years. My wife and I currently lease a large minivan and we own a small Acura EL. Post lease the minivan is gone. We'll trade for a smaller more efficient subcompact, Honda, Toyota, or Nissan. Furthermore I recently stumbled upon a website that is selling hydrogen conversion kits and information. Apparently it's and easy conversion that can be done by anyone to virtually any vehicle. It sell's for about $50.00 US. I have not yet purchased this information/kit but am inline to do so and try it out over this coming summer. They boast as much as 50% savings in fuel economy. Wow. We could all use that right about now. I'll post my progress and results on the site as they come in.

In the mean time, bike, walk, carpool, slowdown and plan your trips more strategically in order to get the very most out of the gasoline you purchase. Leave the car at home and take the bus; it may be a lot easier to get used to than you think. A lot easier than getting used to today's fuel prices I might add.