Sunday, May 25, 2008

Gas prices


The average European looks jealous at the gas prices on this photo (click on it for a larger picture), and wonders why people still pay that little money for fuel.

Last week, the gas price reached almost $ 4 per gallon, which is $ 1.06 or € 0.68 per liter. Still, the gas price is daily news, and Obama & Hillary talk a lot about it – how to decrease the price and the usage of gasoline. Why is there so much going on about gas prices in the US, while it is still inexpensive?

First of all, the gas price increased with $ 1.50 a gallon (60%) in one year, and in 2002 people only paid little over one dollar a gallon. So people here were used to almost-free gas, but they now start seeing it in their pockets.

Secondly, many American cars use a lot of gas, especially the SUV´s and pickup trucks… An example: my car (1999 Honda Accord) was sold in the Netherlands with a 1.6 and 2.0 litre 4-cylinder engine, which was big enough for most Dutchies. However, I have the lightest version in the US, which is a 2.3 litre engine; there is also a 3.0l V6 version of it! And don't assume that everybody likes to race here - not at all!

Thirdly, people in the US need their car. There might be trains in between cities, but they are expensive. And once you’re in the city the subway will take you to many places, but visiting someone or something outside the city is impossible. And don’t even start about the bicycle – that is used for entertainment, not for practical transportation! The distances won’t let you use your bike. The country is built on space, gigantic metropolitan areas and suburbs, and using busses there would be impossible.

The fourth reason: people drive long distances! Are there people living in Amsterdam, working in Leeuwarden, and visiting their parents in Paris on a regular basis? Over here, it´s pretty common!

So you could understand that the people here are filling up their gas with a little frustration nowadays. You will hear tips about fuel-efficient driving on TV (like we had in the Netherlands 10 years ago) and websites started comparing fuel prices. After all, I´m still filling up the gas with a little smile, thinking about the $ 9.50 a gallon that people pay in the Netherlands!