Yesterday morning, I felt compelled to call in to a local talk radio show that was discussing interesting ways that ordinary people are helping their fuel economy and hypermiling. It has been a hot topic around the Chamber as of late, after all, and since the host mentioned that he’s heard of people yanking out their passenger seat and speakers as a somewhat drastic measure of weight reduction, I just had to confirm it for him. Yep, I’m one of those guys:
What got me in trouble with other caller, however, was the fact that I mentioned that my overriding motivation for hypermiling wasn’t to save money or the planet, but patriotism (yes, I used the “P” word. “patriotic duty” was the phase, to be exact). I should have known better, really. After all, saying that you’re doing something because you feel its patriotic is one of those classic grenades, because you’re inherently implying that anyone who isn’t doing it is unpatriotic. And them thar’s fightin’ words on a conservative talk radio show, I tell ya, even if it wasn’t really my intent. So, “Rick” got on the line and took issue with what I said, saying that I was “right out of the Jimmy Carter era” (something I didn’t hear until I got a chance to cue up the podcast1 when I got home). So, seeing as I was unable to retort and defend my position on the radio, I figured that I might as well bring it on here into the Chamber (and it makes a good follow-up to my previous post anyway).
But am I completely off my rocker? I mean, we’re not talking about an activity that most people can do without here. If the price of, say, movie tickets jumps up to $20 within a few months, then what do ya know, people stop going to the movie theaters. No biggie. But if the price of gasoline rises up to $5 a gallon, then $6, then $7, and we’re still consuming the same amount, there’s really no reason to believe that it’ll go down, and the far-reaching implications of that are downright frightening. Of course, to cope, people may drive less or decide to carpool to work, but unfortunately this stuff is the life blood of our economy, and there’s not much on the horizon that would lead one to believe that we’ll stop using it altogether anytime soon. One could make the argument that, at this point, our ability to use it affordably is critical to our way of life. And if someone who goes out of their way to do their part to protect that way of life is considered a patriot, well…would doing one’s part to decrease the demand2 be such a bad thing?
I should note, emphatically, that I’m not saying that just because you drive an SUV you are a problem. Believe me, I work in the industry, and I know first hand that there are plenty of people out there who can’t get out of these vehicles even if they wanted to, and they’re hurting as much or more than anyone ($100 fill-ups gotta sting). Heck, I wish I had it in my budget to get a 40mpg car right now. But, interestingly, the reality is that the stuck SUV drivers have the greatest savings potential, as it turns out. By employing just a few simple hypermiling techniques, any driver can see a 10% increase on their MPG, and if you do the math, that 10% in an SUV results in a greater impact on total fuel consumption than gaining 10% in, say, my Cougar. And 10% in my Cougar has a greater impact than 10% in a Prius, and so forth. Vehicles that are fuel efficient are great, and we can hope the manufacturers continue to improve them, but we all have the power to help out on this.
2I’m going on the assumption that this is a supply and demand issue, which I’m sure is one of those things that people are going to debate as well. So, if it isn’t, well, then I guess I’m just saving money. (about $90 in the 2 months I’ve been concentrating on it)
Update: How about a link and quote to support that I’m on the right track…
“If you could take 10% off the weight of every car on the planet overnight, it would make so much more difference than all the new engine technologies and fuel technologies that people are talking about,”