Author Topic: Most Americans won't change lifestyles until gas hits $5.30  (Read 12712 times)

Gerard

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Most Americans won't change lifestyles until gas hits $5.30
« on: March 11, 2012, 06:15:08 PM »
http://moneyland.time.com/2012/03/09/poll-most-americans-wont-change-lifestyle-until-gas-tops-5-per-gallon/?iid=pf-article-latest

Must be hard to drive with both hands over your ears while you chant "la-la-la, I can't hear you"...

arebelspy

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Re: Most Americans won't change lifestyles until gas hits $5.30
« Reply #1 on: March 11, 2012, 06:47:20 PM »
They say they would at 5.3, but I'm betting give them the same poll 5 years ago and they'd have said lower.  When we hit 5.30, they'll say "oh, when it's 6."  When push comes to shove, most don't actually change their ways much.

That being said, I don't really plan on changing my lifestyle, regardless of gas prices, even if it was $10/gal++

I'd run the numbers on things (just like I do now) to compare, and go with the most efficient option (i.e. flying vs driving for a trip, choosing a vehicle to purchase, etc. etc.).  But I'm pretty sure not much would change in my life.
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Re: Most Americans won't change lifestyles until gas hits $5.30
« Reply #2 on: March 11, 2012, 08:11:03 PM »
They say they would at 5.3, but I'm betting give them the same poll 5 years ago and they'd have said lower.  When we hit 5.30, they'll say "oh, when it's 6."  When push comes to shove, most don't actually change their ways much.
Yep. And even then, their reluctant lifestyle changes will vanish as soon as gas gets cheaper again. The abundance mindset will kick in and the same people who complained about gas prices will trade in their cars for Hummers and SUVs, probably taking out a $10,000+ loan to do so. :^/

chrish

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Re: Most Americans won't change lifestyles until gas hits $5.30
« Reply #3 on: March 12, 2012, 02:04:05 AM »
In the UK, prices are already over $8 a gallon. I'm not sure it changes people's lifestyles much at all - they maybe consider fuel efficiency a bit more when buying a car, but in my experience, most people don't make much effort to reduce the number of miles they are driving.

arebelspy

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Re: Most Americans won't change lifestyles until gas hits $5.30
« Reply #4 on: March 12, 2012, 08:28:54 AM »
In the UK, prices are already over $8 a gallon. I'm not sure it changes people's lifestyles much at all - they maybe consider fuel efficiency a bit more when buying a car, but in my experience, most people don't make much effort to reduce the number of miles they are driving.

Keep in mind that your gallon is different than ours.

One imperial gallon is approximately equal to 1.201 U.S. gallons.  One imperial gallon is exactly 4.54609 litres, whereas one U.S. gallon is exactly 3.7854118 liters.

So your $8/gallon, if done in Imperial gallons, is like our $10.41

Or, to put it in terms of this article, people were saying they'd change behavior at $5.30/US gal.. that's like changing at $4.40/ imperial gal.  So your price is over double ours (and that's not even counting currency conversion), and almost double what people would change their behavior at (or so they claim).

Makes my claim that they wouldn't actually change much even stronger.  =/
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chrish

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Re: Most Americans won't change lifestyles until gas hits $5.30
« Reply #5 on: March 12, 2012, 09:05:34 AM »
Petrol in the UK is usually priced in litres.
1 US gallon = 3.79 litres
Current price is around 1.35 per litre, or 5.12 per gallon, which is around $8

So it is $8 per gallon, not $10. Still bloody expensive though!

velocistar237

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Re: Most Americans won't change lifestyles until gas hits $5.30
« Reply #6 on: March 12, 2012, 09:06:32 AM »
The article says that a lot of people have already made changes in response to gas price increases up to this point. Also, almost 50% said they would make changes somewhere in the $4 range, i.e., an amount almost upon us. Lots of people are making changes.

Should I go ahead and buy a car? I'm planning to buy one soon anyway, and rising gas prices might drive up the price of fuel-efficient cars.

MountainMan

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Re: Most Americans won't change lifestyles until gas hits $5.30
« Reply #7 on: March 12, 2012, 10:33:02 AM »
There's a difference between what people say and what they do.  They can even change their minds as the moment of truth gets closer.

The real fact is, these polls are worthless.

In the last price spike, people were getting rid of their large vehicles and buying smaller cars.  Smaller cars, even used ones, were gaining value on the market.  (Some of that increase in valuation might have had to do with the market distorting effects of Cash for Clunkers.) That will probably happen again in another price spike.

Now that the price has been lower for a while and people have gotten used to it, people are buying and driving large vehicles again (especially where I live, where it seems like everyone and their grandma has a large super-duty pickup, just to drive to the grocery store two blocks away).   (But even here, during the last price spike, people were getting rid of their large vehicles... there was a definite trend.)

Don't pay attention to what people say, pay attention to what they do.

If there is a price spike, people *will* change their behavior, somewhere.

They have no choice.  They have finite monetary resources and they must allocate money in certain categories each month.  Something will change.  Count on it.

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Re: Most Americans won't change lifestyles until gas hits $5.30
« Reply #8 on: March 12, 2012, 08:46:34 PM »
The contrast with UK doesn't show that peoples driving is unrelated to gas prices, it shows the exact opposite!

The average mpg of cars on the road in the US is around 17.
In the UK it is 38.

The average miles driven per year in the US: about 15,000
In the UK: 8,000

That's 882 gallon per year for the Yankees,
Only 210 gallons per year for the Brits.

Huge difference!

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Passenger_vehicles_in_the_United_States#Fuel_economy
http://www.mahalo.com/answers/whats-the-average-miles-driven-per-day-and-per-year-per-american-driver-over-the-past-20-years-has-it-changed
http://www.admiral.com/press-releases/16042010/motorists-drive-to-the-moon-and-back-again-and-again-and-again/
http://www.treehugger.com/cars/number-of-the-day-38-mpg.html


My understanding is that the US oil embargo was what allowed the Japanese automakers to penetrate the American markets once dominated by the Big 3, as Honda and Toyota produced tiny efficient cars while the Big 3 kept making the muscle cars that had sold well in the past.  When gas prices went up, people starting buying smaller cars.
During the 80s and 90s, gas was cheap, and people bought lots of SUVs.  When gas started getting more expensive, that spurred the hybrid market.

The American consumer may be mindless, but economic theory does have some truth to it.
« Last Edit: March 13, 2012, 10:25:37 AM by Bakari »

chrish

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Re: Most Americans won't change lifestyles until gas hits $5.30
« Reply #9 on: March 13, 2012, 03:12:34 AM »
Yes, as I said earlier, I do think high petrol prices have some affect on the cars people buy, but, in my experience, it doesn't have that much effect on the number of miles driven. I would guess that the main reason people in the UK drive fewer miles is the higher population density - stuff just tends to be closer here!

Also, a lot of cities here developed in the 19th century, and so tend to have very little off street parking and very narrow streets. This is one of the main reasons we tend to prefer smaller cars - an SUV is not very practical if you live in a 100 year old victorian terrace house with no driveway or garage.

Sunflower

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Re: Most Americans won't change lifestyles until gas hits $5.30
« Reply #10 on: March 15, 2012, 01:23:39 AM »
Looks like we can all stop worrying and get back in our cars! CA gas prices are coming down to $3.90 and the rest of the country is going to follow suit...I think I'll go buy a Hummer! :-P

http://www.latimes.com/business/money/la-fi-mo-california-gasoline-prices-20120314,0,5794776.story?track=icymi

arebelspy

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Re: Most Americans won't change lifestyles until gas hits $5.30
« Reply #11 on: March 15, 2012, 07:35:13 AM »
I think I'll go buy a Hummer! :-P


Just one?
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Re: Most Americans won't change lifestyles until gas hits $5.30
« Reply #12 on: March 15, 2012, 09:24:24 AM »
Gas right now is cheap, albeit a bit more than a couple of years ago.

The key metric IMHO is what the gas price is compared to disposable income.  I like the graphs in this link, especially "price of gas in minutes of work at average wages"

http://www.umflint.edu/~mjperry/GasPricesUSAToday.htm

It's this that controls behaviour, not nominal prices.


menorman

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Re: Most Americans won't change lifestyles until gas hits $5.30
« Reply #13 on: March 15, 2012, 10:12:19 AM »
Gas right now is cheap, albeit a bit more than a couple of years ago.

The key metric IMHO is what the gas price is compared to disposable income.  I like the graphs in this link, especially "price of gas in minutes of work at average wages"

http://www.umflint.edu/~mjperry/GasPricesUSAToday.htm

It's this that controls behaviour, not nominal prices.
Yea, I was thinking back the other day and realized that while gas has gone up over the last decade, it really hasn't outpaced inflation that much, especially when ignoring the CPI and looking at inflation numbers that actually include the cost of items people usually buy. The lowest I remember personally seeing is about $0.89/gal in the late 90s. When I started driving in the middle of the last decade, the lowest I paid was about $1.70/gal before it climbed to current levels (notwithstanding the return to that level in late 2008/early 2009). However, current prices are obviously still not enough to crimp demand because people continue driving, although most places also don't have very many options since whole areas are built in manners that require driving.

nondualie

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Re: Most Americans won't change lifestyles until gas hits $5.30
« Reply #14 on: March 15, 2012, 11:04:12 AM »
I saw BIG differences in behavior the last time gas prices spiked.  I was living in Denver at the time and folks who used to commute in their F350s were taking their wive's Civics in to the office.  People started adjusting their thinking around buying houses 45 miles from their offices.  People stopped driving to the National Parks that were further away and started doing more local stuff.  It had all sorts of carry-on effects.  I think the shock will be even worse this time as people are now even more maxxed out and under-water than 2007/8. 

As per me...won't change things a bit.  I walk to work and take the bus to most places.  When we do use our car, the cost of gas isn't really that big of a factor...adds $10 to our trip from Seattle to Portland, etc.

James

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Re: Most Americans won't change lifestyles until gas hits $5.30
« Reply #15 on: March 21, 2012, 09:59:20 AM »
If you wondered if the public is paying attention, just watch the adds by the auto makers.  Changes take time and there are plenty of stupid people out there, but things are slowly changing because of gas prices.

menorman

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Re: Most Americans won't change lifestyles until gas hits $5.30
« Reply #16 on: March 21, 2012, 04:32:42 PM »
If you wondered if the public is paying attention, just watch the adds by the auto makers.  Changes take time and there are plenty of stupid people out there, but things are slowly changing because of gas prices.
Yea, I've noticed lately that many now include some reference to fuel efficiency. Definitely a step in the right direction, but at the same time we all know that many of those people don't need to (and maybe can't even truly afford to) be driving at all. Too bad there still is a lack of an education campaign to get more of the general public pedaling.

nondualie

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Re: Most Americans won't change lifestyles until gas hits $5.30
« Reply #17 on: March 21, 2012, 09:35:01 PM »
If you wondered if the public is paying attention, just watch the adds by the auto makers.  Changes take time and there are plenty of stupid people out there, but things are slowly changing because of gas prices.
Yea, I've noticed lately that many now include some reference to fuel efficiency. Definitely a step in the right direction, but at the same time we all know that many of those people don't need to (and maybe can't even truly afford to) be driving at all. Too bad there still is a lack of an education campaign to get more of the general public pedaling.

I love when Ford tries to sell their SUV's by saying they have ECO-boost...lolz

menorman

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Re: Most Americans won't change lifestyles until gas hits $5.30
« Reply #18 on: March 22, 2012, 11:22:26 AM »
If you wondered if the public is paying attention, just watch the adds by the auto makers.  Changes take time and there are plenty of stupid people out there, but things are slowly changing because of gas prices.
Yea, I've noticed lately that many now include some reference to fuel efficiency. Definitely a step in the right direction, but at the same time we all know that many of those people don't need to (and maybe can't even truly afford to) be driving at all. Too bad there still is a lack of an education campaign to get more of the general public pedaling.

I love when Ford tries to sell their SUV's by saying they have ECO-boost...lolz

Yea, too bad they poured their R&D dollars into that EcoBoost V6 instead of a real diesel engine like they'd originally hinted. Seeing that the diesel engines they throw in their real trucks get the same sort of mileage that the EcoBoost engines do (even while towing...), one could only imagine what they could get out of a diesel engine in the F-150. But no, everyone is crying about the emissions standards that have to go on them and saying they "won't be viable". Yet somehow, Volkswagen/Audi manages to get their TDI vehicles to pass CARB standards and Mercedes also sells diesels here and still (I assume) generate a profit for them. I don't understand how Ford (or BMW) can't find a way to put emissions equipment and make a profit on vehicles that cost twice, even triple what a Jetta TDI costs.

HumanAfterAll

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Re: Most Americans won't change lifestyles until gas hits $5.30
« Reply #19 on: March 22, 2012, 11:32:10 AM »
I love when Ford tries to sell their SUV's by saying they have ECO-boost...lolz

Actually, improving SUV fuel economy could make a big impact.  You wouldn't know it from MPG numbers - improving from 19mpg to 23mpg* doesn't seem like a big deal.  But if you look at gallons per 100 miles, that's going from 5.26 to 4.34 gallons per mile, saving 0.9 gallons per 100mi.  To get the same absolute fuel savings out of a car that starts at 35mpg (2.85 gal/100mi), like the Honda Fit, you'd have to jump up all the way to 51mpg (1.95 gal/100mi). 

So, 4mpg improvement on an SUV saves as much gas as 16mpg improvement on an economy car, in absolute fuel consumption.  Not bad!

Of course, if everyone drove economy cars, we would be in a better position.  But don't discount the impact that efficienct SUVs will have on fuel consumption!

Unless, of course, Mr. Jevons was correct, in which case we're all screwed anyway.

*Here's the comparison of the Ford Explorer, old vs. new: http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/Find.do?action=sbs&id=28792&id=32223

MMM

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Re: Most Americans won't change lifestyles until gas hits $5.30
« Reply #20 on: March 29, 2012, 07:05:04 AM »
The thing I find amazing about this is that while US gas is still cheap by world standards, the amount people spend on gasoline is a HUGE part of their budget, because of the large vehicles and the enormous number of miles they drive each week.

Filling a 20-gallon gas tank once per week is $80, or about 60 grand every ten years if they invested the money. Most people don't even HAVE $60,000 to their names, meaning their gasoline habit is more important than ever being able to retire!

That's also about the amount it costs to feed an entire person, or rent a room with housemates in an average city

.. and yet the gas is only a quarter of the typical car's operation costs.

So the part that is most amazing to me is that non-millionaires drive at ALL at these prices!

Rich M

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Re: Most Americans won't change lifestyles until gas hits $5.30
« Reply #21 on: March 31, 2012, 08:44:24 PM »
Yeppers. I was going to post something similar from npr recently.  Good one.





Gas right now is cheap, albeit a bit more than a couple of years ago.

The key metric IMHO is what the gas price is compared to disposable income.  I like the graphs in this link, especially "price of gas in minutes of work at average wages"

http://www.umflint.edu/~mjperry/GasPricesUSAToday.htm

It's this that controls behaviour, not nominal prices.