Wednesday, June 25, 2008

My Big Fat SUV


Four dollar a gallon gas along with reducing my carbon footprint, has got me thinking about my own carbon footprint sins—I own a Big Fat SUV, a 1992 Chevy Suburban. I did some calculating this morning as I considered full repentance for my sins. Here are my notes:

800 miles driven per year—all in-town
11 miles per gallon in town mileage
72 gallons of gas used per year
@ $4.20 per gallon gas
$302 annual cost of gas

Really, shouldn’t a person with pro-environment leanings drive around town in a Toyota Prius like my nifty colleagues Steve Lennox and Todd Voss do? Better yet maybe I ought to get one of those cool plug-ins and disconnect forever from middle eastern oil.

So I calculated a trade. I paid $10,000 for the used Suburban when it had about 100,000 miles on it. I could now get maybe $5,500 if I sell it outright—I could put that toward a lower emission car maybe. So I checked the cost of the cheapest used Prius within 500 miles of my home. I found a “clunker” for just over $17,000. (A true plug-in was far more than that so I dropped the plug-in idea altogether.) So if I sell my Suburban for five grand and add just $12,000 to that money, I too could be a cool low-carbon guy. How much would that investment of twelve grand save me on gas?

800 miles driven per year—all in-town
44 miles per gallon (in town mileage)
18 gallons of gas used per year
@ $4.20 per gallon gas
$226 annual savings in gas

In short, if I fork out just $12,000 extra for the used Prius, I could save $226 every year at the gas pump and “it would pay for itself” in just 53 years—in time for my 115th birthday.

I need a quicker payback.

So I guess for a while yet, you’ll still see me running around town in “my Big Fat SUV.”

(Of course more commonly you’ll see be around town on my bicycle).


Joy said...

Coach D,
I think the Priuses are more for people like Phil & me who used to spend well over $300 a month in gas - but even then an expensive hybrid didn't make since. We opted for a tiny 4-cylinder car instead.

::athada:: said...

As you've pointed out, the Prius is not a blanket solution. But how many vehicles are getting just 800 miles a year? Also, plenty of materials / energy went into your Suburban, so probably better to use our big vehicles more appropriately until they die - for trips with a lot of cargo, or for taking kids on hiking trips.

If we were really generous, we'd find a way to share trucks between 20 families, instead of every man desiring his own and using it only occasionally for truck-y things.

Keith Drury said...

Adam... thanks for comments..

Keys to truck available to all my friends any time... they know where they're hidden--do you? (trailer in back yard).

(Also tomato plants will produce in UR self.)

::athada:: said...

Thanks Coach. I'll be sure to make it out to the Drury u-pick.

::athada:: said...

You will have to make Marion bike trips to "earn" your plane flights this year. Keep it up - you're on your way!

Burton Webb said...

Love it! The Prius made sense for us because we drive so many miles each year (31K!) with no real options for the next 12 months. Ideally, Kay would get a job in Marion next year and we would be able to move closer to were we work. At present, we own 5 vehicles with an average gas millage across the 5 of 43 MPG. The Helix @ 69 mpg and Prius @ 48 mpg really help the average, but none of our cars get under 30 mpg.

Adam - our solution to trucky, SUV, or minivan things has been to rent them when necessary. We just returned from a driving vacation where we rented a minivan. Great trip and not as pricey as it would have been if we "owned" the minivan.

Keith Drury said...

Good thoughtsBurt...

Our average family fleet MPG was 75MPG until last week when I sold half our fleet (by selling our two 95MPG mopeds)... we just downgraded from mopeds to bicycles...

...but you're the scientist--so how many gallons of milk does a bike get? Milk costs energy to produce too ;-)

Burton Webb said...

OK - I did it. Take a look at Biolexeme to see the results.