Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Feeding The Beast

When I was a kid, I remember seeing a snake for sale in a pet shop for $19.99... and the mice to feed it, in a nearby cage, selling for $1 each. I figured it wouldn't take long for the mouse expenses to exceed the snake cost. I thought that a wise pet shop would give away snakes for free. (This was in the days before a thrifty customer could go and order low-cost mice via the internet.)

So lately I've been thinking about a similar question: at what price of gas does the cost of "feeding" the average vehicle, over its lifetime, exceed the cost of the average vehicle itself?

Average cost of a new car in the U.S., 2006: $22.651
Average fuel economy of new cars in U.S., 2006: 24.6mpg*
Average life span of a new car: This is harder data to find. I'm going to guess 125,000 miles before junking.

With these numbers, the magic gas price is: $4.64 per gallon. And it seems like that's coming 'round the bend pretty soon.

(* This is, alas, down from the peak average fuel economy of 26.2mpg-- which was reached 20 years ago and not seen since. What was I saying about time warps?)


Blogger C Neal said...

And yet, instead of having oil companies give SUVs away for free, we're seeing car companies give away free gas.

7/9/08, 8:47 AM  
Blogger Claire Colvin said...

I'm trying to decide if the positive effects of the nifty math outway the the depressing thoughts that ensue. Mostly I'm left still missing my Civic.

Isn't it someone's job to say "OK enough, that's as high as it goes"? Gas prices have steadily increased and it seems like no one is doing anything. It's like an army marching across an open field unopposed. I fear we'll all get trampled in the process.

If this was a comic book, the hero would be suiting up.

7/14/08, 9:37 PM  

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