Our rosy, rebounding economy is still powering the American demand for gasoline, according to the American Petroleum Institute. February gas deliveries were up 4.2 percent over a year ago—a new record—and U.S. drivers were still buying, despite a near 40-cent boost in gas prices last month.
Yes, we know it hurts, and you’re probably looking at $4.00 gas this summer.
Others besides Big Oil aren’t so sanguine about the rebound. Nielsen Wire considers the budget impact of these price increases on typical households. It finds four scenarios in which increases in gas price from 10 cents to $2.00 would hit household budgets with anywhere from $10.50 to $210 per month.
Add in the Middle East uncertainties, the Japanese disruptions in supply, rising commodity prices, still-way-too-high unemployment, and the fact that household wages have not kept up with inflation—and the picture is hardly rosy.
One of the best sources for checking fuel prices is the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s Gasoline and Diesel Fuel Update, which gives regional and national data.
While both diesel and gas prices are approaching 2008 levels, diesel is finally coming closer to gas, and U.S. buyers are finally buying more diesel cars. Monthly diesel sales of new cars (from Audi, Mercedes, BMW, and Volkswagen—the only ones selling diesel in the U.S.) essentially doubled.
Volkswagen sold the most—over twice what their competitors sold—and Audi led in percentage of buyers choosing diesel (48 percent). In all, for 2010, 32 percent (77,877) of cars sold by these four German carmakers were diesels.
Maybe it’s the beginning of a trend, as people begin to recognize the benefits that diesel can provide: much better fuel economy, less greenhouse gas emission, more torque, and longer life.
Fortune contributor D.M. Levine wrote a good piece on the impact of rising oil prices and the other uncertainties as these things affect the development of EVs and hybrids. Despite the fact that such cars haven’t sold well yet, we are still in a transition stage, “and the days of the gas guzzling internal combustion engine are numbered.”
But it’s all a matter of timing, isn’t it? Fuel prices are just one element in a nasty mix of economic confusion, Mid-East madness, and the hazards of nature.
Will you curtail your driving if gas goes over $4.00?