Saturday, May 3, 2008

58 Million Gallons. Bwwahahahaha.

J. Paul Zoccali

          As gasoline prices reach record highs, if there's one film that's more important for all Americans to see than An Inconvenient Truth, it's Who Killed the Electric Car?   Appropriately, in the final third of the film when they really start pointing fingers, it gets a little confusing. That's because the number of different forces involved is a little mind-boggling. Props to Chris Paine for spelling out the situation, seemingly as simply as possible, not leaving a stone unturned, and allowing the viewer to come to his/her own conclusion. This viewer's conclusion: Compared to Chevron's sledgehammer, all other entities involved where using a rubber mallet. I hate to "spoil" the film for anybody, but maybe this will get a few more people to watch.
          I thought the 2 major key points in the film were
1.) GM undermining their own marketing of the EV1, then re-claiming them as the leases expired and having them junked., and 2.) Chevron purchasing the company that made the 2nd, vastly upgraded electric car battery. I'd like to know how that deal went down. Was the whole thing done secretly? When did word first surface that Chevron had inquired, or did it not become news until the deal was done? Did the battery company tell anybody they'd been approached? I'm inclined to think the initial offer was monstrous enough for that little battery company that they didn't even entertain the thought of notifying electric car advocates of the pending deal. Am I stating the obvious, here?
          And of course, it's easy to speculate about big oil possibly having a hand in GM's decisions, but at this juncture, it would be just that on my part... speculation. I haven't really dug into it and I'm not going to waste the time. If 60 Minutes or Mr. Paine haven't unearthed such evidence yet, I'm certainly not going to. But that's the biggest question the film left me with. Why, GM? Annnnnd, of course, with gas prices hovering in the $3.50-$4.00/gallon range, small, low-mileage vehicles are flying out of showroom doors, with none other than Toyota and Honda leading the way. Hey, GM...go ahead... kick yourself. I know you want to. GM: How hard?
          Now I know I'm not the only one who's more than slightly alarmed by the fact that Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton - and yes, you too, Mr. McCain - rarely even address the issue of reducing U.S. oil dependency, let alone recognize said oil dependency as the lynchpin of the current recession. When the price of gas goes up, everything goes up, right? When are they going to start talking about the amount of fuel required to conduct a war and how that effects the per-gallon price? Don't hold your breath. Exxon recently reported the biggest corporate annual profits ever for 2007. A discussion of the political influence such a windfall would enable a company wield is beyond the scope of this post. Think about it on your own.
          That spike in small car sales, and the coinciding death knell for SUVs, may be an indicator that now that we're really getting kicked in the teeth, we're going to stand up and fix things on our own. (The invisible hand at work. Thanks, Mr. Smith.) I hate to see what's happening to GM as much as the next American, but we're in a bad situation. The government just gave away $300 - 600 to help the economy. Awesome. Hmm... how about graduated tax break incentives for owners of high mileage cars starting at 35 mpg? Or would that make too much sense?
          How addicted to oil are we? If I said that in January of '08, California drivers bought 4 percent less gas than the previous January, how many gallons would you guess that 4 percent equals? In a recent New York Times article, Bill Vlasic wrote:
But there are some indications that the trend toward smaller vehicles will reduce the nation’s fuel use. In California, motorists bought 4 percent less gasoline in January than they did the year before, a drop of more than 58 million gallons, according to the Oil Price Information Service.
4 percent of 2007 California gas sales = 58 Million gallons. Say it like the bad guy from Austin Powers... 58 million gallons.


1 comment:

  1. "... the biggest, strongest buckle holding us in this straitjacket of a recession."

    Ooh, that's good writing!