I'm tired of stopping for gas

Colin
By Colin Wood
Jan 20, 2024 | Road Trip, fuel, gas, Driving, Column, Blog, Gas Station | Posted in Columns | Never miss an article

Photography Credit: Erik Mclean/Unsplash

Am I crazy for wanting to use less gas? Less stopping to fill up. Less standing around the pump. Less breathing the fumes while pumping.

I look at my regular routine. Driving to the grocery store. Driving to my in-laws’ for dinner. Driving to drop off my daughter at daycare.

I don’t know if this makes me crazy or less of an enthusiast, but using so much gas to get around just feels wasteful. I don’t mean that in a “save the environment” kind of way (which is still important in its own right) but more in an “I’m tired of having to stop and get gas all the time” way.

Don’t get me wrong, I love driving. Few activities equal the fun of a road trip or a track day, but there has to be a better option than emptying my gas tank just to run a few errands across town.

Perhaps that’s why my wife and I have been eyeing a plug-in hybrid as our next family vehicle. It seemingly offers the best of both worlds: An electric car for when you just need to drive across town and a gas-powered one when you need to drive across the country.

But then there’s the reality of owning a car that’s at least partially an electric car: the charging infrastructure. We live in an older home–sadly, no garage–and I have really investigated where or how to fit a charger here. Sure, there are a few chargers downtown, but the only other ones nearby that I’m aware of are a row of Tesla superchargers down at the Super Target on the opposite side of town.

So maybe a “regular” hybrid is the next best option. I might not get the gas-free driving experience my wife and I are looking for, but we’d technically still be using less gas.

However, what if there was an option that didn’t require me to drive a car at all? That would save a lot of gas, right?

There’s a whole bus system that runs throughout the county I live in and beyond, though I have not used it a single time in the four or so years that I’ve lived here.

Heck, I could take the bus all the way Disney World if I wanted to–a roughly 100-mile round trip–all without using a drop of the gas in my car.

Am I overthinking this? Is some kind of electrified appliance the answer here, or do you still see stopping at the pump as part of your day for years to come?

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Comments
ChrisTropea
ChrisTropea Associate Editor
11/2/23 9:32 a.m.

As someone who drives a truck that gets 19mpg I too understand feeling like getting gas is a waste of time but I don't think I could live without having a truck. 

Sure there are more efficient trucks and electric ones but how much gas would I have to use to justify spending the money to upgrade? Plus you cant bring a 2x4 from the big box store on the bus. 

My best solution so far is take as few of trips as possible to minimize how much fuel I use and never leave the tank empty when I know I have to be somewhere important the next day. 

STM317
STM317 PowerDork
11/2/23 9:35 a.m.

You should be able to easily replenish a PHEV's range in a typical overnight charging situation with a standard 120v outlet, and the EVSE should come with the vehicle to enable just that.

That being said, mass transit, cycling, an ebike, etc should all be considered as potential options to reduce your fuel consumption when appropriate.

maschinenbau
maschinenbau GRM+ Memberand UberDork
11/2/23 9:43 a.m.

Yep, the real answer is drive less. But we have a car-dependent society, so realistically your only options are gas stations or EVs (hybrids included).

Colin Wood
Colin Wood Associate Editor
11/2/23 9:59 a.m.

In reply to STM317 :

Agreed on the alternative forms of transportation. I know I could do better about utilizing them.

As for the car charging, I have to street park. The only way I could get my car plugged in is to run a lengthy extension cord, which I've been led to believe isn't a good idea.

Colin Wood
Colin Wood Associate Editor
11/2/23 9:59 a.m.

In reply to maschinenbau :

I hear you, it's an unfortunate reality for a lot of people.

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
11/2/23 10:07 a.m.

Colin and I were discussing this yesterday. In theory, he could take a train all the way to and through Orlando–but only Monday through Friday because we don’t have weekend service. 

I’d love to be able to take a train to Orlando or even all the way to Tampa. Basically, put a rail line down the middle of I-4, please, and give us seven-day service. But I also realize the challengers there. 

camopaint0707
camopaint0707 Reader
11/2/23 10:32 a.m.

Of all the first world problems today lol.

Toyman!
Toyman! GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
11/2/23 10:35 a.m.

I have one car that does everything very well. It's a 2014 Touareg that was bought for about $23k. It's a diesel. Gobs of torque, decent fuel economy, 7700 pound towing capacity, seats 5, is comfortable, and semi-sporty. Beating around town in the daily grind, I have to fill it every 2 weeks. That's not much time a the gas station.

I have looked hard a the EVs in the world. There really isn't one that will fill the shoes of the above vehicle without spending a boatload of cash. The Lightening, in reasonable trim with the extended battery, is $66k+ after the tax credit. That buys a little over 15k gallons of diesel, or enough to push the Touareg another 329,000 miles. That's about 21 years of driving for me. I would probably still need another vehicle because I really don't like driving a truck all the time. BTDT. 

I seriously looked at EV trucks hard recently and didn't buy one because of bed size and price. I bought an F150 Ecoboost instead. It was $44k cheaper than the Lightening. That buys almost 14k+ gallons of gas or 266,000 miles. That pushes my break even out 7 years and probably past the useful life of the truck. 

Yes, I know I didn't figure in oil changes. I also didn't figure in the cost of electricity for charging which will probably be more than the cost of oil changes. 

The EVs are a viable alternative, but at the end of the day, buy-in just costs too much for me to play and I don't break even until long after both vehicles are dead.  Maybe in the next few years, the used prices will come down and I'll do the math again. 

Until then, it's gas stations for me. 

Edit to add, our public transportation is a joke and isn't a viable alternative for anyone. The nearest bus stop to my house is 4 miles of congested and dangerous roads away. That is an express bus that only goes downtown so I'd have to catch another bus back out to the hub to catch another bus that goes past my office. Travel time shouldn't be more than 2-3 hours. 

 

JG Pasterjak
JG Pasterjak Production/Art Director
11/2/23 11:06 a.m.
David S. Wallens said:

Basically, put a rail line down the middle of I-4...

They've not even been successfully able to put I-4 down the middle of I-4 for about eight years now, so...

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
11/2/23 11:08 a.m.

In reply to JG Pasterjak :

A boy can dream!

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