May 25, 2004

Cars and trucks

Gas prices are high, and they'll be getting higher. And it's our fault.

Well, not my fault, really. Aside from trying to not drive very often, when I do drive it's in a car that routinely gets 30+ mpg around town and over 40 on the open highway. The problem is all those people who get really huge vehicles (SUVs being the worst, but vans, trucks, and even full-sizers are not exempt) and then drive them around all the time, everywhere.

It's not the case that these big cars are never appropriate, of course. Farmers and subcontractors are often hauling around a bunch of stuff in their pickups. Families with a bunch of kids make use of the extra passenger space in a van. And I'm sure someone has a legitimate use for an SUV.

But a lot of people get a big vehicle because, quote, "I want to be able to pick up a load of lumber at the Home Depot." If they give any reason at all, that is, aside from needing to make a public display of excess. The pseudo-legitimate excuses made don't hold up under further scrutiny: these weekend warriors are going out and getting something that requires cargo capacity maybe once or twice a month. Last I checked, most home improvement stores would rent you a pickup truck for an hour for about $25, easily enough to bring your load home and drop it off. And you'd save that much in gas in a month with a smaller car, not to mention the fact that a smaller car saves you a bundle up front. And even with the SUV you'll occasionally run into big lumber purchases you can't handle---not a problem if you're renting a truck on the spot.

More generally, to the extent that a lot of gas-guzzler drivers have occasionally legitimate uses for their vehicle, it is often so rare that they would actually save money just buying a smaller car and renting something big for a few hours. And the economic and environmental savings of not burning off such an excess of gas and oil, well, that's simply uncountable.

"Hey, don't make me take off my leg and beat the shit out of you." --Harley Jackson

Posted by blahedo at 5:03pm on 25 May 2004
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