Saving gas always seems more important when it’s expensive. Often, when prices come back down, we return to our old ways of overusing gas without appreciating that oil, a commodity, fluctuates in price such that it can go up or down at any time. Look, for example, at how many analysts out there called this downward trend a bad thing. (betcha a quarter that their personal financial portfolios have taken a bit of hit in recent months because of this…) Sure, the stock market dips slightly in the short-term, but you should be more worried about asteroids crashing into Earth than that the market won’t recover from the dip. After all, the last time we had prices this low, the market wasn’t doing so badly, either.
So, for consumers, it’s a good thing when gas prices drop, but environmentally speaking, it’s a good idea not to lose our heads here. You know what I’m talking about, too. Everyone knows we love our trucks here in America, and there’s hardly anyone who doesn’t appreciate a vehicle they can spread out in a little bit. We love our SUV’s, our trucks, and our land yachts with big, powerful, and oh-so-smooth V8 engines purring under the hood. Admit it, chances are you’ve been annoyed by the less-than-capable nature of your small car at least once or twice, and pined for a bit bigger trunk to stash stuff into, and what guy out there hasn’t wanted for the ability to tow a trailer once or twice?
The trouble is that as nice as they are, there’s just no getting around the fact that they simply aren’t efficient. While most have FINALLY made their way into double-digit fuel economy, you’d still be hard-pressed to find an SUV or large truck that manages more than low-teens fuel economy. The cars, by and large, are getting upward of 20-30mpg, but the vehicles we mostly gravitate to these days are still heavy, bulky, and while capable of amazing feats of towing prowess, are still expensive to feed. While lower gas prices can make fueling one of these trucks up less painful, you have to remember that gas prices are going to rise again eventually, and it may be the case that the prices go up to the point that you end up paying $5 or more per gallon, as was once predicted.
The high gas prices of the last ten years drove innovation in making cars and trucks more efficient. Lower prices will eventually make engineers lazy, and we, the buying public, complacent. If we aren’t careful, we could get caught up in yet another situation like we were in just a few years ago, paying hundreds of dollars to fill up vehicles that get low gas mileage, hoping for prices to go down again, or at worst, selling those expensive vehicles for cut-rate prices and losing a bundle of cash in the process. At this point, can we really afford not to look ahead to see what might be coming?