The Price of Gas?

THE PRICE OF GAS….Newsweek suggests that our love affair with the SUV may be fraying due to high gasoline prices:

John Luber reached the breaking point when he took the family SUV for a fill-up recently and the pump didn’t stop spinning until it hit $65. When the Cincinnati-area dentist got home, he sat down with his wife and did the math. With their GMC Yukon getting only 13mpg and gas at $2 a gallon, they discovered their monthly fuel bill was more like a car payment: $385….

The usual proposal for getting people to buy more fuel efficient cars is either a tax on gasoline or a tax on gas guzzlers. But this suggests a different approach.

How about this instead: right now the sticker on a car lists (among other things) the price of the car and its city and highway mileage. How about adding one more thing: approximate cost per month of gasoline based on some simple formula involving typical driving habits, average amount driven, and the price of gasoline. Or maybe it would include a small range of costs based on different driving amounts and different gasoline prices. The “official” gasoline price used for the calculation could change every six or twelve months.

My guess is that, like the Lubers, most people don’t have any idea how much they spend each month on gas. If all we did was make sure they did know, it might change car buying habits significantly without any taxes and without much effort from anyone involved.

It wouldn’t change the world or anything, but it might make a difference. Why not give it a try?