Frustration At The Pump

By: Meaghan M. Norman Email
By: Meaghan M. Norman Email

Gone may be the days of long road trips and leisurely drives. Many people are pinching pennies so they can afford to fill up their gas tank.

"I was only able to put $15 in my car today 'cause that's all I have to go for gas," said Alex Emerick.

That's just over three gallons for Michigan State sophomore Alex Emerick. "I'm just cruising on the gas light, it sucks."

The pain got even worse this week when gas stations surpassed the four dollar mark.

"20 cents in one day, I don't see many products that just like that. I think it's outrageous," said Emerick.

It may be outrageous, but as is the case with gas prices, we never know when prices will drop or spike again.

"I hate to say it, but there's a very good chance that prices could go up substantially more," said Charles Ballard, an economics professor at MSU. "But it's hard to say because it depends on so many variables."

Crude oil is holding steady at about $112 a barrel as of Tuesday. Back in the summer of 2008, we were pushing more than $140 per barrel and that put pump prices well over $4.00. Ballard says there is not way of knowing if crude will continue rise to that point. But, it doesn't mean that we'll see the same prices that we saw three years ago.

"The crude is one important part but also how strong is the demand for gas," said Ballard.

So, despite how high crude rises, the demand must also be there to see prices climb. There are also a variety of other factors that contribute including taxes and shipping costs, which all help determine what you pay at the pump.

Now it may be hard to believe but there is some good news to these high prices.

"The worldwide economy is recovering from the recession and that's leading to an increased demand for oil products across the world," said Ballard.

But he also added that if consumer continue to have to dig deeper into their pockets to pay for gas, they won't have money for other products and that could ultimately slow our recovery.

But there are those people who are avoiding the pain at the pump all together --- those on two wheels. You may start seeing a whole lot more scooters and motorcycles on the roadways.

"Gas prices are getting ridiculously high and I wanted something more economical on gas," said Chuck Allen, a motorcycle rider from Eaton Rapids.

"We have motorcycles and scooters that get 100 mpg. You can park the pickup truck and make payments on a bike with what you'll save," said David Burgess, president of Full Throttle Motorsports.

Full Throttle Motorsports in Dimondale has seen sales increase by nearly 40 percent over the last year. And management says that's due in part to the steadily rising gas prices.

"With high gas prices it's driving a lot of people ..... [to] sling their legs over the seat and start to ride off," said Robert Ritchie, sales manager at Full Throttle.

Motorcycles and scooters are known to be gas-efficient for example a Suzuki S40 gets 70 miles to the gallon.

"With the gas wars right now I'm ready to do do war right back, so I bought a scooter that does 100 mpg."

Larry Cummings just bought a new scooter and has been riding both motorcycles and scooters for decades.

"[It's] a very practical means for me to get around," said Cummings. "We leave the cars -- the cadillac and saturn in the garage all we can."

His new scooter will come filled up to the brim, with two gallons of gas that will get him 200 miles.

"If you're planning a purchase, you should start looking now," said Burgess.

Burgess added that the natural disasters in Japan have caused a slowdown in production and will likely cause a supply shortage in the U.S. within the next few months.

A new scooter at Full Throttle usually starts at around $2,000. But there are used ones for sale as well. Used motorcycles can start out around $2,500. A sign hanging on a wall, above the scooters reads: "Turns on a dime, costs a nickel."


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