Have you noticed that gasoline prices have been declining lately, and that it’s now summertime, when gas prices can spike up? Gas prices are dropping below $3 a gallon in a few markets.
When you hear experts like Chevy Volt proponent Bob Lutz talk about the future of green machines (EVs, hybrids, and alternative fuel vehicles), rising gasoline and diesel prices are usually mentioned. These green vehicles might be more expensive than their traditional internal combustion engine counterparts, but fuel prices will eventually get so high (and green vehicle prices will drop when they reach economies of scale) that consumers will see the obvious benefits.
But what if it takes a long time for fuel prices to reach a critical benchmark, like $4.50 a gallon for regular unleaded gasoline? This emphasizes the critical need to educate car shoppers of all types about the true benefits of EVs, hybrids, and alt-fuel vehicles:
1. Freedom from oil addiction – importing it from turbulent places, being vulnerable to volatile price fluctuations, oil spills, wars, etc.
2. Reducing greenhouse gas/carbon emissions and air pollution – improving air quality and possibly averting climate change/global warming and weather disasters.
3. More jobs in America during the Great Recession – assembly plants, supplier parts, dealerships, service garages, used vehicle remarketing, charging station installations, alternative fuel vehicle infrastructure, solar panels, etc.
4. Conservation and sustainability for future generations – this comes from automakers and their supply chain partners, and the other stakeholders mentioned in No. 3, making their products from recycled materials; using renewables like solar, hydro, or wind, to power an assembly plant; practicing energy efficiency in plants and offices; and making the best and brightest green machines.
5. Advanced technologies — when automakers release electric vehicles and hybrids, they’re expected to also offer the latest in onboard systems — connectivity, navigation, infotainment, communications, etc. So your plug-in car can be told about the closest and fastest charging station, right next to a Starbucks, etc. For the car shopper who wants to own the latest, coolest, and smartest product, this would be the one the check out. There’s also the federal and state mandates to make cars high mileage and low emissions – through light materials, smaller and more fuel efficient engines, aerodynamic design, etc.
So, gas prices don’t set the stage for success in green machines. It’s an indicator that must be followed, but it’s how the industry responds to it that matters.