It’s a “December to Remember.” The American consumer is now spending on average $4155 to keep their beloved car filled and revved up. This all according to the latest December 19th report by the Associated Press on fuel costs. The shock of higher prices at the pump has not forced the American government to introduce a comprehensive energy policy, one which mixes domestic oil, gas, electric, and the like into a market friendly guidepost. Citizens have moderated their rallying cries – The Pickens Plan has a registered base of 1.7 million citizens demanding domestic supply – while strong, hardly a dent in a population of nearly 350 million citizens. The anti-natural gas debaters have been neutralized by big oil in spite of awareness campaigns from the left and Hollywood. Of course the splashy news of Solyndra’s bankruptcy and China’s cheap photovoltaics has all but killed hope in the public solar support category; only the most endowed companies will pursue viable solar installations. The politicians have hung themselves with a tax measure linked to the insistence that new jobs will await the newest gas pipeline. Somehow, educating a new installer base on wind, solar and electrical grid needs is not as appealing as the tried and true Keynsian approach to America. And where is the consumer? Struggling to keep the lights on.
As CNBC’s report on the latest findings indicates, consumers are being most impacted when their wages have not risen.
She’s my baby, but I’m going to have to switch to something more economical, Hunter Collins said about his Dodge Charger and the 40 mile commute to and from his job.
To save, he like others are making difficult personal choices to break the addiction to a ride he loves. Practical over performance is setting some of the tone this holiday season. The alternatives for the consumer conscious is to turn to mass transit – hardly a practical option in most American cities. Yet even in the major cities the price to journey out is not decreasing. New York’s MTA now charges $2.50 per ride before bulk savings are applied. This is 25% higher than where fares were only 2 years ago.
Perhaps the best alternative when the domestic policy is not leading bailed out automakers to provide fuel efficient value in new rides is to restructure the way one consumes, commutes and thinks about moving from point A to point B. Most American will not, nor should they, give up their dependence on a car. The car/truck though should be intelligently transformed. Unlike 1981, or 2001 for that matter, the consumer can now obtain most of their needs and wants directly – and without leaving the comfort of their home. The internet and mobile connectivity is widely engrained. This year will close as one of the best for online merchants and e-commerce. It is also the option that allows each of us who choose to rely on Fedex and UPS for almost any need or want we might have. And as indicated in earlier posts on this site, the automakers have in 5 years made vehicles lighter and ultimately more fuel efficient – especially after the 2008 auto bailout.
Finding a way to cut the cord to a car is not for everyone. Yet for those who do, you will not only save the gas, insurance and monthly payments that likely total annually $12 to 15K easily; you will induce a structural shift in the way commerce and government will need to respond to your market driven choice.