Tag Archive for gas prices

Just In Time to Stick It to OPEC

The temperatures climbed into the sixties during the early part of the week, and I busted Lenore out of jail.

67 degrees means Lenore can come out to play!

How YOU doin', sexy?

She gets around 50mpg, so it’s just in time as gas prices spike up. We’re averaging $3.89/g around here, with some gas stations inside Peoria already hitting $4 or more. Surprisingly, Gas Buddy says prices in my old stomping grounds around the Chicago ‘burbs are about the same.

Now the pundits are saying gas may hit $5/gallon. They’ve threatened it before, but I imagine it’s got to happen some time. Makes me wish Better Place would hurry up and bring their cars out this way.

I understand they’re setting up charging stations around the Big Island of Hawai’i. If I ever get back out there, I’d like to rent one for at least part of the trip, or take a test drive.

In the meantime, I’ll be content with my motorcycle saving me cash.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

Your Electric Car is Almost Here

I just finished reading a Wired article featuring Shai Agassi and his company, Better Place. It’s very much worth a read if you’re at all interested in electric cars, alternative energy, and weaning the world off the oil teat. Just a couple pages into the article I was ready to buy one of his new cars.

Yes, there are going to be bumps in the road; lots of whining and buts and I-don’t-thinks. But you know what? It’s like Yoda said: “Do or do not. There is no try.” You can read it all and come to your own conclusions, I have something else I wanted to talk about.

Agassi and his company are are changing the distribution model slightly, but for the most part it still follows the traditional pattern of the current petroleum infrastructure: you pull up to the charging station and top off your batteries. Better Place takes it a step further by having additional stations where you can swap out your entire battery when necessary, be it if you can’t get a full charge fast enough or if your battery is just wearing down. (By the way, with his numbers, annual swapping/charging costs are only a third of what you spend on gasoline at $4/gallon.)

Why not do away with charging stations altogether? Just have the battery swapping stations, not both.

The example they give is a person pulls into a charging station, plugs in (or a hydraulic arm plugs you in automatically), and tops off. Sounds familiar, right? Since we’re talking about electricity now, why not just move these charging stations to the customer’s ultimate destinations?

Whether you have to go shopping or sit down for breakfast, you ‘re going to be in the building for some time. Rather than letting the car sit idle in the parking lot, if Better Place sells/licenses/leases/whatever their charging stations to the company, you can plug it in and let it top off while you’re shopping. Employers and city garages could install them and run it off their existing power. Apartment complexes could do the same. (I can hear you now: strains on grid, blah blah blah. Go read the article. It’s no more far-fetched than what Agassi is already proposing. If people stop fighting wind farms and nuke plants, it wouldn’t be an issue.)

This solves another problem: because you’re constantly charging the battery, you don’t keep running empty. If I have to run to three different stores and can plug in at least one, I should be covered. If I can’t juice up at home, maybe all my other stops let me juice up enough that I don’t have to sweat it. And if not, there’s the battery swap station (which will no doubt also have charging available).

The charging/swapping combo is what you sell to the existing gas station owners. Now they don’t have to deal with gas brokers and speculation and refinery shutdowns, they just have to work with their local electrical utility. Gas stations that already have fast food joints in them are a no-brainer because now people can come in, suck down a coffee and a McMuffin, and return to a fully-charged car.

If I’m running a gas station without a restaurant, I’m ecstatic. Now the people who pay at the pump and drive off may come in and wait while their battery is charging because they don’t have to babysit the flow of gasoline anymore. Now I’m selling more impulse goods. Maybe I put in a small lounge with a couple seats, a newspaper rack, and a coffee machine in easy reach. Maybe I install a television. Maybe I install a wi-fi hotspot for the power broker who can’t wait five more minutes until he gets to the office. Anything to keep the foot traffic coming and giving me a chance to sell them something.

Or maybe I’m just having flashbacks to my retail days again.

UPDATE 10/23: A Better Place has just landed a deal to build an electric car network in Australia.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

I Still Wouldn't Drive One

It would appear the Geo Metro is making a comeback due to the spike in gas prices, and people are paying as much as five times the Blue Book value for them.

As a cheap-ass second car, I might consider one, but no way would I pay that kind of money. I test-drove a Metro back in ’93 when they were new, and was less than impressed. My dad and I cruised the four blocks from the car dealership to our insurance agent while test-driving it, and while we did get good news on insurance, we almost got killed leaving his lot.

This is a rural town, mind, and what we’d call “heavy traffic” is still a fraction of what you’d see in the suburbs, much less the city. There was a steady flow, though, and I watched for a gap. Finally one came, one that wouldn’t have been a big deal with a 4 banger or better, assuming you gave it some gas. I knew the Metro only had three cylinders, so I put the hammer down.

There was just no go. The little hamster wheel spun up as fast as it could go, and we nearly got rear-ended. There was much honking and single-finger saluting behind us, and my dad and I were both doing that involuntary lean/scoot thing where you’re trying to get the car to go just a little bit faster. I would have been better off Flintstoning it.

With what people are paying for the old ones, I’m surprised Chevy hasn’t tried to bring back an updated version of the Metro. I bet a cheaper hybrid with a three-cylinder engine would fly off the lots as long as the gas prices are as high as they are.

I still wouldn’t drive one, though. I can live without a ‘Vette or a Viper, but if I’m going to drive something, it at least needs to move when I hit the pedal.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.