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Should gasoline cost $10 per gallon or more?

The price of gasoline can affect the outcome of the 2012 elections, the success or failure of alternatively fueled vehicles like electric cars, and the success or failure of efforts to mitigate climate change and other environmental goals.

What should the price for gasoline be? That's a huge question with major political, economic and environmental consequences. Some complain about the high price of gasoline and look to expanding oil drilling to bring the price down. Some see the subsidies given to oil companies, and wonder why this happens when the oil companies are immensely profitable. Some see the environmental cost for refining and burning oil, and to incentivize alternatives call for even higher gasoline prices. Some see the immense oil imports and the economic cost of selling dollars to buy oil, and also call for alternatives to oil. Some see the Middle East wars as being an externalized cost to the price of gasoline, see it as about gaining control over oil supplies, and also call for alternatives to oil.

Relative to many other countries the U.S. gasoline price is cheap. That's in part due to U.S. domestic oil production, an advantage many countries do not have. However the U.S. oil reserves are scant compared to what they once were, we've already burned most it. In the present day, gasoline price goes up and down based on geopolitical whims and the number of operating oil refineries on any given week. However over the long term the cost of oil is destined to continue increasing. This is due to a supply effect known as "peak oil" which is an estimation of oil supply constraints which will occur as oil becomes harder to extract.

Even though the U.S. gasoline price is cheap compared to other countries, the perception is that it's expensive. Perhaps because gasoline prices are higher than in the 80's or 90's.

Largely speaking the gasoline price is set by the market forces of supply and demand. The government has little power to control the price for gasoline, except for the gasoline tax. The last time the U.S. gasoline tax was raised was in 1993, and it is not pegged to inflation or the current price of gasoline.

Some say the gasoline price is too high and should be lowered. There is a strong correlation between high oil prices and recessions, and the recent bout of recession was immediately preceded by very high world-wide oil prices. Before the financial collapse in Sept 2008, we were complaining about gasoline prices in the spring and summer of 2008. But what ability does the government have to control oil prices? Very little. There is the Strategic Petroleum Reserves, but it's purpose is not for the government to do market manipulation. Instead its purpose is to provide oil supplies in times of serious strategic need. For example, in June during the Libyan crisis there was a coordinated release of oil from oil reserves, to calm oil markets, and this caused controversy in some circles. Some in politics are calling for an increase in oil drilling, but since it takes 10 years or more for an oil well to come on line that won't cause an immediate oil price decrease. And in any case, because the U.S. has only 2% of the world oil reserves the remaining U.S. oil reserves will do very little to power the U.S. economy for any length of time.

What about the oil company subsidies? Is this the correct allocation of dollars, to subsidize an immensely profitable industry? Some say the oil company subsidies are one of many factors tilting the market to the oil companies benefit. During his State of the Union Address last week President Obama said "We’ve subsidized oil companies for a century. That’s long enough. It’s time to end the taxpayer giveaways to an industry that rarely has been more profitable, and double-down on a clean energy industry that never has been more promising. Pass clean energy tax credits. Create these jobs."

Some see various problems with the use of oil, and want to raise the gasoline price to disencentivize its use and encourage alternatives. One problem is the economic damage to the U.S. coming from importing so much oil and shipping dollars to oil producing countries. Additionally there are a range of environmental, health and climate issues caused by the use of oil. Together these create a strong incentive to switch away from using Oil, but not an incentive that's reflected in the price of oil. The oil companies have made sure that many of the costs arising from using oil are not reflected in the price of gasoline.

Economists call those costs externalities, or a cost that's paid by someone else and is not covered by the cost of the product. For example, are the costs of poisoning the places near oil wells or oil refineries reflected in the pump price of gasoline? The health care costs of those unfortunate enough to live near where crude oil is mined or processed is not paid for by the oil companies, but by other means if at all.

The cost of the Iraq War can be seen as an externality to the price of gasoline, if you are one who believes the Iraq War was about gaining control of oil supplies. After all, waging war against Iraq to maintain control over oil supplies is an example of The Carter Doctrine in action.

In June 2009 Elon Musk (CEO of Tesla Motors) was quoted saying gasoline should be $10 per gallon because "I'm not paying for the true cost of gasoline at the pump...since nobody's explicitly paying for the CO2 capacity of the oceans and atmospheres, it's getting consumed. We will pay for it down the road, but we are sort of ignoring it for now."

A recent book, $20 per gallon: how the inevitable rise in the price of gasoline will change our lives for the better, talks about the range of effects as gasoline prices rise to ever higher levels. For example at $8/gallon of gasoline the airlines would cease to function, and at $12/gallon the current suburban landscape would be unaffordable leading to an urban revitalization.

Today, electric cars are cheaper to drive than gasoline cars if one considers only the price of fuel. That is, the price of electricity to go a given distance is less than the price of gasoline to go that same distance. This holds true only for current gasoline prices. If gasoline prices fall this cost advantage could be erased, or if gasoline prices rise, the cost advantage could be even bigger. Perhaps big enough to pay for the other costs that come with an electric car.

Since the government doesn't set gasoline prices, the market does, the only method to artificially increase the gasoline price is an increase to the gasoline tax. Which could be a problem because of the great divide in opinions on how to address the issues discussed above. The disagreement between "drill baby drill" to lower prices, and the clean energy revolution envisioned by President Obama and others is vast. And unfortunately the "drill baby drill" crowd seems to have a strong foothold in Congress.

Source: What is the true price of gasoline? Should it cost $10 per gallon?


Aaron Turpen    February 3, 2012 - 9:00PM

The way I see it, if we killed all subsidies across the board (for everything: oil tax breaks, incentives for buying hybrids, etc) we'd see a lot more stabilization and reality inserted into our gasoline prices and market as a whole.

When government tries to manipulate things, they nearly always cause more problems than they fix. It's a fundamental law of governance, just as the bureaucratic law which dictates that a bureaucracy can do nothing but grow in order to feed itself.

Frank Sherosky    February 3, 2012 - 9:00PM

Yeah, let's raise gasoline to $10 per gallon. Then you can kiss the American economy along with the world good-bye for sure.

I think the "subsidize-baby-subsidize" crowd is no less dangerous than the "drill-baby-drill" mantra at any cost. Correcting one violation (subsidizing oil) by creating a new one (subsidizing electrons), this time in favor of high cost EVs which would be a heavy burden on the masses at the present cost, is no solution either. Why not just drop ALL subsidies and see where the chips fall? That way, at least market forces can respond within a free market environment.

Aaron Turpen    February 4, 2012 - 10:45PM

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

How many electric cars and watts of solar panels do you own, Anonymous? I'm going to make a guess here.. none.

If I buy an electric car, how do you suggest I use it? I live 45 miles away from a town of any size (meaning 90 miles round trip) and it gets very windy here and we aren't on a level plain, so 100 miles of range isn't going to cut it.

Solar panels where I live, assuming you mean for power generation, are extremely cost-ineffective. Not all of us live in Arizona and Southern California. I happen to live very much north of those places and cloud cover coupled with snow/ice makes solar useless here. For water heating, yes, for electricity to power that electric car you think I have to have? Nope.

Sorry, Anonymous, but since my best options for electric cars have ranges of 78 miles (Leaf) and less and since the power I'd have to generate to charge that car would require half an acre of solar panels (and a lot of labor keeping them clear so the can receive the sunlight needed to produce enough for that car).. your answer is unsatisfactory.

I write a lot about electrics and alternative fuels here and on my own sites and have found that the biggest problem with these alternatives are the morons who worship them like some kind of religion and can't seem to understand why the entire planet hasn't switched to their worldview.

Electric cars are not currently marketable. It's going to be a (long) while before they are. Hate to break it to you, but it's the truth.

Rob (not verified)    February 5, 2012 - 12:09AM

In reply to by Aaron Turpen

Classic straw man argument reply, so because you happen to live in a remote home, without good solar potential, in the snow that means that electric vehicles are unmarketable.

Consider that the average US commute is 12.6 miles, the average daily driving distance is 39 miles and over 99% of people drive less than 70 miles per day. Now consider that both solar and lithium ion batteries have seen price improvements of over 60% in the last 12 months alone and are expected to continue at a similar rate. Then consider that newer electric cars coming onto the market with latest generation batteries have ranges of up to 300 miles. Sure these vehicles are in their infancy and are still relatively expensive for the initial vehicle purchase, but the fuel is 80% cheaper than an equivalent gasoline vehicle and for those who do live somewhere where solar (or wind) is suitable) they can install them and after an initial pay off period of currently around 4-5 years then drive with completely free fuel.

I also write and read a lot about electric vehicles and recognise that they have limitations, but I personally find the biggest problem with them are the morons who dismiss them out of hand and don't recognise that just because they may not work for them that doesn't mean they wont work for anybody.

Frank Sherosky    February 5, 2012 - 1:05PM

In reply to by Rob (not verified)

Nobody is dismissing EVs for lack of capability as both present or future use. What I find here are remarks simply stating that EVs are not ready for economic prime time; and I tend to agree with that. Yes, duh, the electron fuel is cheaper than gasoline, BUT, duh, you have to pay a severe premium in vehicle cost to get that privilege. Not everyone can afford that. So, what has been gained? Very little except you supported as an early adopter. Now I applaud that, but am miffed that my tax dollars supported your purchase. Bottom line is, you need the masses to enact the effects you are seeking.

Frankly, CNG as the national fuel of choice would get us off of foreign supplies and relieve us of much of that burden. I do not see that as a forever condition, just an interim until your beloved EV batteries come down in price so ALL the people may partake. So arguing against CNG for purist reasons simply follows the same ramblings of E-only fanatics.

Again, without mass participation, your green goals will never be met. And EVs are still using coal and nat gas as their supply. So, I sense a lot of hypocrisy in the EV or none arguments.

In the meantime, ICE will be around in 2030 to the tune of 80% of total volume per government reports. So much for making a difference with EVs. Fact is, upcoming split-cycle engines with various air-hybrid, electric superchargers and stop-start will avail the masses a far more affordable remedy and result in far less use of fuel overall; availing the use of nat-gas and synthetic fuels as well.

The EV is not as pure as you make it, unless you have an infrastructure that is totally green; and the energy demands of the world are just too large for that to happen even by 2030. And if you want to support EVs, then go all out for zinc-air battery development, and admit that lithium is not the ideal fuel. Zinc-air is the ony viable E option you have that has a chance right now of bringing in the masses, because cost is less; availability is local.

Let the bantor continue!

Anonymous (not verified)    February 5, 2012 - 2:53PM

In reply to by Frank Sherosky

Actually, most people who say the EV's on todays market (therefore making them not ready for economic prime time) are thinking only about how they stack up against an econobox. That completely misses a major factor, namely that most EV's and EREVs out right now are *not* econoboxes and would not be even if they were ICE only. I did a comparison of a BMW 3 series car against the Chevy Volt on a price and option level and they were very close. Then when you factored in the additional cost of gas, the Volt turned out to be cheaper. And before you go saying there's no comparison between a Chevy and a BMW, talk to some people who own both a Volt and a 3 series. Yes, there are people who own both and think they are very comparable. So if you don't start out the argument thinking only about economy, but thinking about a nice, more upscale car with lots of features and performance, then think about the cost to operate as a secondary concern, you will find what a lot of other people have found, which is this segment is VERY MUCH ready to begin playing in prime time. Ask Danny DiVito, the actor, comedian, director and producer, if he ever thought he would own and drive a Chevy. He will tell you this is not like any other Chevy. Then, since we are talking about BMW, how about the Active-E that is just beginning it's public trials? Not an econobox and very nicely equipped. One could easily argue that it is first and foremost an ultimate driving machine that happens to be electric. And Mercedes Benz is not about to be outdone. They have a very nice A-class EV. No one out looking for a Camry is going to bother looking at a Mercedes, BMW or a Volt. Not because they are electric or extended range electric. But because the are not in the class of car that Camry shopper can (or wants to) afford.

Regardless, why do you think these big companies with huge reputations spending billions on these cars if there is no future in it? Nissan nearly bet the entire company on the Leaf. Why? Do they know something you don't?

BTW: People don't like to change, especially a major change such as what they fuel their cars with. Asking them to switch to CNG now, and then to electric later involves a lot of cost in changing cars, habits, infrastructure... all very expensive and confusing to the average Joe. Not the kind of contortion a nation will be willing to go through. And then there is the fact that if you don't build the batteries to sell to a large market, the price will never come down or will come down only very much slower. So you can't spend money to move people to CNG while simultaneously getting the volume of battery use needed to drop prices. One doesn't follow the other.

A more serious argument is for an extended range EV (EREV) which can run on battery only for a range and then switch to a generator mode when the battery is depleted. You get the benefit of driving electrically most of the time and run off the generator whenever you need to. The Volt happens to be the first of these, but there are others available now and more to follow. The guy who lives 90 miles away from his work could even use an EREV to commute with and get a lot better fuel economy than with an ICE-only car. But of course, he may feel he is better off driving an econobox that gets 40 MPG and he may be right. But if he's the kind of guy who might prefer to drive something nicer, like a BMW 3 series car or it's ilk, he could drive something like the Volt and get the comfort and features he would expect from a car in that class, but much better fuel economy than he could from most other cars in that class. You see the difference? Later, as EVs can be made more simply and cheaply, you will get your EV econobox that can do 200 miles on a quick charge, but only if those of us who enjoy and can afford a plusher car will make the choice to make that car an EV. Cars started out commercially as a luxury item that only rich people could afford to own.

Frank Sherosky    February 5, 2012 - 5:37PM

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Your own words: "And before you go saying there's no comparison between a Chevy and a BMW, talk to some people who own both a Volt and a 3 series,."

You are really saying to hell with the masses who cannot afford a Volt. As long as the few can afford a BMW 3 and/or a Volt, especially at $400-500 per month lease, then that's all that matters. And if you and the person who owns both can afford that, then why the heck did my taxes subsidize the Volt purchase? So you and other BMW shoppers can feel greener than the rest? How frickin' arrogant! Oh, what would we do without the visionary first adopters who will avail, if we are lucky, the crumbs to the masses?

And your anti-CNG comments are even worse, because CNG would benefit the masses, right now, with very little additional cost. But no, you are on a higher plane. Your socalled purity is sickening. Are you not aware that 80% of vehicle by 2030 will still be ICE? Read the government's own reports. EVs will still be in the minority; so that is not where the emphasis needs to be.

If you were really that concerned about the environment, I would think you'd want a fast, economical and ubiquitous approach, even if it is stepped. And EVs as configured ain't it; at least right now. Even the automakers know it will require a a blend of technologies, something you are unwilling to consider.

So, question is, do YOU see the difference? Certianly not through your filtered glasses. Yes, cars started out commercially as a luxury item that only rich people could afford to own. That did not last long, though, thanks to Henry Ford. Learn a lesson from him, as he went for a car that could be bought by the masses. Besides, this is 2012. What? We have tech to put a man on the moon but cannot build a larger, lighter, comfortable high-MPG car that all can afford? If CNG can help us (the masses) along in that quest, why on earth would you diss it?

Anonymous (not verified)    February 5, 2012 - 10:19PM

In reply to by Frank Sherosky

I'm pretty sure I didn't say "hell with the masses who cannot afford a Volt". My argument was that when new technology is rolled out it's expensive and isn't going to be built or priced as an inexpensive econobox. Why should you be so hateful towards someone who can afford to buy one? If you are so outraged that your personal tax dollars are subsidizing something you don't believe in, imagine how I feel knowing I am subsidizing oil companies who are *not* struggling to get a new, low margin product out but are instead more fat and profitable than ever. And then there are pharmaceuticals. They not only get a subsidy for R&D, they get a lock on the market and charge high prices to get their R&D costs back. Yep, doesn't make sense to me either. You're tilting at windmills if you're getting all out of breath over the relatively small sums that are going to new energy development. Certainly pales in comparison to the trillions of my tax dollars GW threw at Iraq without my permission.

BTW: You don't get any "subsidy" with a Volt lease. You only get that if you buy and then you get it as a tax credit. It's not like the dealer takes that amount off the purchase price. And you only get the full credit if your tax situation allows it. (The Leaf lease does get the full credit, but it goes to Nissan, not you. It lowers the lease payments.)

Pretty sure I did not dis CNG, rather I questioned the idea of converting the nation's fleet to CNG now and converting again to something else later. I also questioned the ability to get it out of the ground without fracking. Because fracking is questionable, at best and very freaking dangerous to humans at worst. But if CNG is a good option for you personally, go for it! I looked into it myself before I went electric. Conversions are available and are quite reasonable. I just don't think it's a practical option in this country right now. I think the time it would have been an option is now past, but hey, prove me wrong!

If you want to elevate me to a higher plane for having these concerns, go ahead. But I'm only trying to provide a counterpoint, in a calm and reasoned way, to the stuff you brought up. I hope if you are such a firm believer in CNG that your cars are being powered by it right now. I'd say put your money where your mouth is. I do.

Hope everyone gets to drive what they want to drive. Enjoy!

Frank Sherosky    February 5, 2012 - 10:50PM

In reply to by Aaron Turpen

I agree with Aaron. Someone got the money. Question is, did you as a lessee get any benefit in the price? Maybe not the full amount, but I would be interested in knowing just how much the dealer and the bank shared with you; otherwise, you may have been ripped. Hope not, though, for your sake. And since the $7500 is part of my taxes, I have a right to know, too. (joke)

One guy I met at my doctor's parking lot told me his Volt lease cost him $500 per month because he bought extra miles. Then he bragged about his MPGe. I could have been jealous but not at $500 per month for a 4-seater. Somehow the total monthly cost still did not make sense on an economic scale when compared to a Cruze, even if you think the Volt has the quality of BMW 3 Series. Heck, my wife's Cruze interior looks as good as was my 2005 Cadillac CTS which only cost me $400 per month in its day; but that merely shows how much GM has grown in quality across all its brands. So, the Volt is really no better in that respect. And for $40K plus it should compete with a BMW.

By the way, I do not resent rich people; I just don't like subsidizing them, when I know they can afford it. Those rich people who bought the first cars sure as heck didn't get a break; so, why should this new generation? See, it's about economics, not the technology or the car or the company.

Regarding nat-gas, do you really think your EV is being supplied by electrons only from wind and solar? Maybe in California on your personal roof top, but not everywhere else in America is it that easy. Yes, natural gas will be required to feed the grid. You sure as heck would have a fit if it was coal. So, fracking is in, and has been done for the past 60 years. Yet, you comdemn the process as if it was something new.

Rob (not verified)    February 7, 2012 - 8:06AM

In reply to by Frank Sherosky

Let me get this straight, you have an issue with a $7,500 subsidy for a $50,000-100,000 EV, but don't seem to have any issue with a $5-10/gallon gas subsidy, more than what you pay for your gas. The equivalent if EV subsidies were to proportionally match the current gas subsidies would be a $30,000 subsidy per $50,000 car leaving the buyer to pay only 20,000 themselves. Even more striking than the individual subsidies is the night and day of the gross subsidies we are talking about, oil company subsidies are currently around $10 billion dollars annually but we get the added benefit of the warm fuzzy feeling that we've helped those poor struggling oil companies through hard times with a donation from our tax dollars. The "excessive" subsidies to EV's on the other hand barely crack 200 million annually.

As far as the grid goes sure its fossil fuel heavy but even with its current makeup EV's produce 60% fewer emissions than gas cars. Once you consider that the grid is improving rapidly with coals contribution to electricity production falling from 52 to 42% over the last 8 years, a trend which is increasing.

Frank Sherosky    February 7, 2012 - 10:28AM

In reply to by Rob (not verified)

YES, I do have an issue with a $7,500 subsidy for a $50,000-100,000 EV because it's focused on the few, not the majority, except in some in-the-future scenario. Even IF your numbers about this gasoline subsidy are ever proven accurate, at least the masses get the benefit, like gasoline taxes which benefits all, because it maintains roads. By the way, EVs will need to pay their fair share for road maintenenace; so I wonder if you factored that in to your costs.

Besides, every automaker knows that lithium is not the final solution; at least zinc is cheaper and more abundant. So why are we subsidizing the few to use lithium which is being conntrolled by foreign suppliers including China?

Yeah, I guess if you can afford a BMW-3 but can get a subsidy to buy an EV which doesn't pay any road taxes, that's a good deal if you can get away with it. Such a deal! And when will the rest of the public get to take advanatage of that? Not anytime soon at present prices. Considering that 80% of cars by 2030 will still be ICE, we would have a greater impact on the environment by going to nat-gas to reduce emissions, then using that subsidy money to further development of the fuel-sipping, split cycle ICE with air hybrid plus the the zinc-air battery for the EVs, not to mention lighter body structures which are far from rocket science. The net result is, cost is lower which mean the masses will be able to afford it; and will be availed sooner rather than later.

Point is, until you get the EVs at a cost the masses can afford without subsidies, the masses will not be able to participate; and without them, your environmental goals, no matter how noble, are doomed to wait.

Rob (not verified)    February 7, 2012 - 8:29PM

In reply to by Aaron Turpen

No but if you really want to be fair the 10 billion was oil company subsidies only and didn't include a whole swag of ice manufacturer subsidies not the least of which would be the 25 billion dollar bailout. There are several dozen other grants, tax breaks and low interest loans to auto companies the vast majority dedicated to ice vehicles. It takes an incredibly myopic world view not to recognise that the subsidies to UCE vehicles and gasoline production just simply eclipse anything available for EV's or renewable energy.

The subsidy is focused on supporting the development of electric vehicles so prices fall and they become affordable to more and more people, and it's working, the Nissan leaf's msrp is 35,200 before subsidies vs the average new vehicle msrp of 30,000, within 20% of the cost of the average gas car and with costs falling rapidly. If all subsidies were to end tomorrow and all externalities were factored in to each choice then EV's would win hands down

Anonymous (not verified)    February 7, 2012 - 10:50PM

In reply to by Frank Sherosky

Never said *anything* about EVs being supplied by electrons only from wind and solar. Never said anything about fracking being a new thing.

If you feel like $40K is too much for what you are getting, don't buy one. Stick with your gas powered Cadillac. It's about the same price. No one will dis you for that. Regarding your wife's Cruze, they are indeed very nice cars. But I guess you missed the article in Kiplinger's Personal Finance where they ran the numbers comparing both the Volt and a Nissan Leaf to their ICE siblings to determine the cost of ownership for an average driver over five years. Does the fuel savings make up for the higher sticker price? They were surprised at how well the two electric vehicles did compared to their closest gas-powered siblings. Volt vs. Cruze LTZ and the Leaf SV vs. Versa S Hatchback. Both cost roughly $18,000 more than their gas-only brethren at the time of the test. But over five years of ownership, the Volt comes within $500 of Cruze's total costs, and the Leaf is only $800 more to own than the Versa because they save so much on fuel. And, after evaluating all of the Volt’s real costs, Vincentric named it the best value in America 2011 in its new “Eco” classification. But none of that matters if you don't want one. Buy what you like and enjoy it. Eventually, EVs will prove themselves with or without you - or they won't. I believe in them and am putting my money behind them. You say you believe in CNG, but you don't say you are driving a CNG car, so sounds like you don't have any skin in the game. It's all theoretical for you.

The subsidy is there to *encourage* people who can afford one or who are close to being able to afford one to take a chance. If they didn't have the incentive, they would probably go a different way. It helps push past initial resistance to a new technology. All the articles and research about how the lower operating costs balance the sheet won't help if buyers are afraid to try. Consider your Cadillac CTS, base MSRP is $35K. Just about where a Volt is after the subsidy. So a buyer looking for a car in that range might be swayed to go with an EV with that incentive and the idea that after spending a similar amount of money for the car, he can skip paying for gasoline and instead pay much less for electricity. Lower operating costs go beyond the gas tank though, as maintenance costs are much lower too. There's also something to be said for not having to go to a gas station or find a place that fuels CNG cars. But if you aren't convinced, there's no reason you can't buy the CTS instead and enjoy it. It's a great car!

BTW, since Kiplinger's already showed that the total cost did indeed make sense on an economic scale when compared to a Cruze, it follows that it makes even more sense compared to a higher priced CTS, which is kind of in the same class as the BMW 3 series. Just sayin.

Frank Sherosky    February 8, 2012 - 12:06AM

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

You wrote, "over five years of ownership, the Volt comes within $500 of Cruze's total costs, and the Leaf is only $800 more to own than the Versa because they save so much on fuel." Then why the heck are we subsidizing it? Let's see, taxpayers pay out $7500 to the few who can realy afford it on their own, but the owners of a Volt or Leaf cannot break even after a subsidy? That's not a great trade or investment with taxpayer dollars, because neither the Volt or Leaf is that much finer than the Cruze (actually, not at all), except for perhaps the unique propulsion technology.

So, thank you; with all respect you're making my point all the more. The subsidy money would be better spent developing a cheaper fuel sipping engine like split-cycle with air hybrid or even an HCCI engine; or at least use nat-gas or even clean diesel or even a stop-start mild hybrid with an electric supercharger, which avails great MPG for city driving. And we don't even have to use expensive lithium for that. Heck we can use lead-carbon batteries or zinc-air which are really inexpensive by comparison. Run your numbers on that scenario.

Further imagine a Chevy Cruze sized car or larger with an all-aluminum body structure. Yes, weight is the enemy of both the ICE and the EV. Let's develop that with the subsidy money so that all may enjoy the benefits equally. Then it won't really matter which propulsion is used, because the efficiency and power to weight ratio will bring greater MPG to everyone, including longer range for that electrical propulsion whether full or mild.

Anonymous (not verified)    February 8, 2012 - 1:39AM

In reply to by Frank Sherosky

"Then why the heck are we subsidizing it?"

I answered this.

"neither the Volt or Leaf is that much finer than the Cruze"

Finer? I think "Finer" is somewhat subjective. That's why several messages ago I mentioned something that would provide a point of reference regarding people who own another car that they perceived as as good or better. You may not agree with them. I can't speak to the Leaf as I have not driven one, but the Volt is a fine car in fit, finish and performance too. Lots of people aside from you seem to think so. They could all be wrong. You at least agree it's unique. But it's all subjective.

You are so hung up on the subsidy money you can't see past your nose. All those things you're talking about... they are variations of what the industry has already been doing for quite some time. Hasn't gotten us where we need to be. With all respect yourself, you don't seem to want to hear so it's pointless to discuss it any further.

Frank Sherosky    February 8, 2012 - 9:23AM

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

I have driven the Volt, the Leaf, the Ford Transit among many ICE like vehicles like BMW, Cadillac, including other less expensives like the Cruze. Fit and finish of the Volt is merely the minimum expectation for every car today. So, point is, nothing worth justifying $40K there; it's the propulsion choice that drives the high cost.

However, you wrote about my tech alternates with, "they are variations of what the industry has already been doing for quite some time. Hasn't gotten us where we need to be."

Really? Used before? Let's see: split-cycle air hybrid - not on road yet; zinc-air battery - not in cars yet; electric supercharger - new addition to Valeo line of products, just to name a few; plus nat-gas cars working fine in Italy, just not here in America so far. But all these are within 2-5 years of being on the road in full production for the masses which by their sheer volume make a difference.

Now if readers were to take your points as having credibility, they would have been misled. So, you are actually pointless here in that those comments have no merit in research and are biased more toward an opinion and love of a single, select technology. Yes, waste of time to go on.

Anonymous (not verified)    February 4, 2012 - 10:00AM

At today's gasoline prices, EV's and hybrids are not practical for those on a budget. Until cheaper batteries are developed, CNG, the cleanest burning fossil fuel, which currently is in abundant, may be the stop gap. More CNG stations are need in order to allow this to happen.

Anonymous (not verified)    February 4, 2012 - 3:50PM

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

The only problem with CNG is that it isn't so nice to get out of the ground these days. Maybe you've heard in the news about "fracking"? The folks in PA I've read about in the NY Times thought they were going to get a nice payday letting companies frack on their property until they got a rude awakening from getting sick. Yeah, let's have more of that!

Rob (not verified)    February 4, 2012 - 6:47PM

It's like you haven't actually understood the point of your own argument. You spend the first 9/10 of the article describing how gas is subsidised, both directly by government subsidies but also by externalities that aren't born by the price of gas. Then you cap it of with "Since the government doesn't set gasoline prices, the market does, the only method to artificially increase the gasoline price is an increase to the gasoline tax. " The whole point is that whilst the government doesn't set the price per se the direct government subsidies and indirect in the form of increased healthcare burdens etc artificially LOWER the price of gas. We don't need a gas tax to artificially raise the price of gas we just need to stop subsidising it and let the price rise to its natural real level. You cant argue that the market sets the price of gas until the market pays the actual price of gas rather than an artificially lowered price.

Natali (not verified)    May 23, 2014 - 8:47PM

I don't know that an electric car could ever be renfied enough to run as fast as Nascar currently does. However, I'm sure they're constantly developing faster, more efficient versions. Of course, at the short tracks, they often aren't running all that fast now. Of course the noise is part of the excitement. To me, though, the speed is what matters. If they could reproduce that, I'd like to see it. It might not be as good as it sounds in theory, but it would be interesting to see. Some people would never accept it just because it was not the original way, so it would probably have to be its own class.

Pranali (not verified)    May 23, 2014 - 9:13PM

Gasoline-electric hybrids have reevcied attention because they are touted by Japanese automaking giant Toyota. They are being introduced haltingly by other automakers because their high-tech battery packs and dual gas-electric power plants make them costlier and less profitable to produce.Natural-gas cars have some significant drawbacks. There aren't enough stations selling natural gas to make them practical for cross-country drives. They don't have as much driving range as gasoline-powered cars. And their fuel tanks take up more space in the trunk of the cars. for more pls visit "foxtrotautotransport"