Filed under: Ag education, Ag promotion, Biofuels, ethanol, Farm, Farm Bureau, science | Tags: Agriculture education, car, cars, compressed natural gas, diesel, diesel fuel, ethanol, ethanol producers, farm, Farm Bureau, gas, gasoline, liquefied petroleum gas, machines, transportation
One of the sessions I attended at the AFBF meeting in Nashville was a General Motors seminar on the future of motor vehicles. Since they were talking to a farm audience they mostly talked about light trucks, but automotive and heavy truck technology was also touched on. One of the items that they made plain was that the gasoline technology was not going away just yet, but they were gearing up for the future.
The biggest driver in the future of motoring was the higher mpg demands of both the public and government in this era if higher fuel prices. The problem with most of the new technologies is getting the fueling stations out for use. Although Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) and Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) are available for larger fleets where they can come to a base station every night, long distance motoring is still going to require a liquid motor fuel. The same is true of hydrogen and electric vehicles, we know how to make them, we just cannot keep them on the road once they get away from fast refueling connections. To bridge the gap until we get refueling stations set up for these fuels we are still going to have to rely on liquid fuels like diesel, gasoline and ethanol.
Despite where you stand on ethanol, the automotive industry is planning on using greater amounts of it in fuels for the foreseeable future. If they are to meet the government mpg guidelines they have no choice. Understandably the growers of ethanol feedstocks are all in favor of this increase.
While today we in agriculture are fighting a battle to keep E-15 approval, automotive manufacturers are gearing up for E-30. They are telling the ethanol producers that it will happen. Automobile manufacturers need the higher octane that ethanol gives to produce the higher performance engines of the future.
I don’t expect Big Oil to give up this battle without a fight. They want to keep us dependent on gasoline and diesel for as long as possible. They are already breaking down the gunkier oils that they used to throw away to meet demand. This costs more money, money they are getting from government subsidies and from us in higher prices. In the mean time, automotive manufacturers are planning for a future that uses less gasoline. They can already see a future of less oil usage, and it is something that I have waited for for a long time.
Filed under: cars, Corn, farm animals, fish, food, Politics, Soybeans | Tags: car, cars, China, Corn, economics, farm, Food, gas, gas prices, politics, Soybeans
Well, perhaps not so new.
As prices for everything seem to be going up we hear many questions of why. Why must I pay more each day at the pump? Why is food getting more expensive? Why are commodities (corn, soybeans, cotton, gold, silver) nearing record high levels? The answer for all of them seems to be an old country that has become the new 500 pound gorilla in the room, China.
For many years, China has been a country with lots of poor people. They seemed to be barely getting by, producing just enough, growing just enough to keep themselves fed. Then they decided to join the world economy and put those people to work producing export goods.
Now flush with cash from nations around the world, China is buying. Their people want to join the rest of the developed world now, and they are not willing to wait. They have money from new jobs and they are spending it. Cars and better food are top on their list.
China is rapidly catching up with the U.S. in the number of cars on the road. Those cars need fuel and China is buying gasoline to fuel those cars. The extra demand means that we in the U.S. are having to pay more to get some of the excess exported by other countries.
The Chinese are eating better lately. They want more than just more rice in the bowl. They want protein, and they are buying up pork, poultry and fish to eat. To feed those animals they are buying corn and soybeans from around the world. They are also buying massive amounts of a co-product of the ethanol industry, Distillers Dried Grains with Solids (DDGS) as a source of protein and fat for their livestock. This added world demand is causing food prices to rise. It has also pushed commodity prices to higher levels.
China has now become the second largest economy in the world. It has quite a ways to go to catch the U.S., but it is growing rapidly. For many years we purchased consumer goods that could be made inexpensively in China, and China took our money. Now China is buying goods from around the world to keep their people happy. What China wants, China gets.
The added demand on the world economy means we’ll have to pay more for what we want in the future. Get used to it.
Filed under: cars, history, Politics, time | Tags: car, cars, fuel, gas, gas prices, history, machines
One advantage of getting older is we get to remember just the things we want to, and pretend the rest did not happen. That may be what is happening as people consider gas prices today. We are all upset because they are going up, we remember how good we had it yesterday, but forget how it was 50 years ago.
Truth be told, the low gas price we were used to are only a product of the last twenty years. I’m not talking about the dollars per gallon, I’m talking about the percent of our income that goes to pay for fuel.
I’m old enough to remember gas prices at 19 to 25 cents per gallon, that was a long time ago. I was not driving in those days. My driving started more in the dollar plus per gallon era. Back then filling your tank was a big deal. People were paying out up to 30% of their income for transportation fuel when my dad was born, and more like 15% of their income by the time I started driving. For the last 20 years we’ve been paying about 3% of our annual average income for transportation. No wonder Americans have fallen in love with the automobile.
When compared to the last 50 years we are only at an average cost for fuel as a percent of average income. We’ll need to go much higher to get back to the price levels of the 60′s. Remember those glory years of the auto? Those big, high powered cars were expensive to keep on the road compared to today.
So go ahead, moan and groan about the high price of fuel at the pump. Some of us are going to remember that we have seen worse and survived it. The price of transportation fuels is going to get worse before it gets better. That is something you can depend on.
Filed under: cars, Politics, science, travel | Tags: biofuels, car, cars, diesel, ethanol, gas, hydrogen, machines, propane
There is an old adage in the commodities markets, that “the best cure for high prices is high prices.” When prices of a commodity get high enough the market either finds a cheaper product to substitute for it, or consumers just do without, thus rationing demand.
That is what’s happening with gas prices.
There are always a few consumers who will have to use fuel to make deliveries no matter what the price. When gas, diesel and oil prices get high enough they will pass on the price increases to consumers of whatever is being hauled. You can expect higher prices for everything because of rising fuel prices.
There are others that had trouble paying for fuel at the old lower prices. They must immediately find an alternative. It could be changing to public transport, or riding a bicycle, they will do without.
Those in the middle will either make fewer trips or buy more efficient vehicles so that they don’t have to use as much fuel. The market will push consumers until they stop using so much fuel before it stops going up.
We in America have become addicted to cheap transportation fuels. Public policy has favored cars over public transport. Much of the rest of the world has for many years placed a higher tax on transportation fuels than here in the U.S. so that those who use cars, use more efficient, usually smaller or diesel powered, vehicles. We in America still drive huge vehicles compared to the rest of the world.
Our world is telling us to change. Since transportation fuels have been inexpensive here, we have used great quantities to move large vehicles, many times with only one rider. We are going to have to join the rest of the world and drive smaller, more efficient vehicles. Those in cities are going to have to use more public transportation, more car pools. People living in the suburbs are going to be moving closer to work.
Higher fuel prices will hasten the day when alternative fuels are cost efficient. The market will look for alternatives. Biofuels and other alternatives will now look doable. Propane, hydrogen and fuel cells now look better economically.
Until we change, fuel prices will remain high. High priced transportation fuels will reduce our usage. Our way of life will change. We have no choice.
Filed under: cars, make a difference, time | Tags: car, cars, fuel economy, gas, machines, mpg, safety
As 2010 draws to a close we have seen the prices at the gas pump go up to a national average of over $3.00. Expect more to come. Typically gasoline prices rise one quarter to one half of their price by spring. This could mean prices of between $3.75 and $4.50 at the pump by May. There are many factors in this price rise, including the extra fuel needed for heating in the cold winter months.
There are ways you can cut the impact of the rising fuel costs on your pocket book, but they may require a change in the way you drive. Here are a few driving tips to help you cut fuel usage.
- Don’t warm up your car. A car sitting outside idling is using fuel, and does not do much to warm your car anyway. Accept the fact that you are going to be sitting in a cold car, put on another layer, and get going. Besides, an idling car is more likely to be the target of a car thief.
- Check your tire pressure. Low tire pressure means more energy is needed to move your car forward.
- Think ahead. Using your brakes excessively means more fuel use. Take your foot off of the accelerator and coast to that stop sign or stop light. Most cars need over a quarter of a mile to coast to a stop from 55 mph. That’s a quarter of a mile of fuel you will not need to buy.
- Accelerate slowly. Slamming down the foot will not get you there that much faster, and uses more fuel. Watch your tachometer and keep it at a lower number as you accelerate. You are not in a race.
- Consolidate trips. Is this trip really needed, or could you consolidate this trip with another.
- Buy local. Is it really worth driving 100 miles to save a few pennies?
- Know your car. I have a car that is really economical to drive at 50 to 60 mph but is a gas hog at 70 mph or more. It’s a great car for trips around town, but not for the freeway.
- Consider buying a different car. Do you really need that big motor in your big car or could you get by with something smaller. Make fuel economy a major part of your choice in your next car purchase.
Saving money on the road is not easy. It requires thinking about fuel usage all the time. As fuel prices climb it will become more and more worth while to think about how much fuel you use.