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Kia Motors said it will start building a battery-powered version of its Soul compact in Korea next month. The car will be Hyundai-Kia's first battery-powered EV export, with destinations including the United States and Europe.

For this year, the global sales target is 5,000 Soul EVs. In Korea, the Soul EV will cost about half of its 42 million won ($39,400) price tag after government subsidies, similar to the higher-end model of the gasoline version, Reuters reports.

The car can run up to 148 km (92 miles) per 24- to 33-minute fast charge or 4 hours on slow charge.
Motorists in Illinois should beware: a transportation advocacy group wants to raise your gasoline taxes, and if it happens, you can bet retailers would be forced to pass it on to you in the form of higher gasoline prices.

According to the Northwest Herald, the group wants to hike motor fuel taxes by 4 cents a gallon to fund a new road-building program that would replace a $31 billion, five year program that terminates this year.

Gas station and convenience store owners are expectedly livid. “This tax, as a retailer, would be pushed to the consumer. We as retailers live in penny profits and cannot afford to absorb this tax,” said Amy Chronister Ridley, vice president of Chronister Oil and Qik n EZ Convenience Stores, which operate in the Springfield area.
April is the official kickoff of the highway construction season, and in Ohio that means 936 separate projects begin across the state, costing a combined $2.5 billion.

Cuyahoga County has the lion's share of investment in ODOT's three-county District 12, with $690 million in construction, a number that includes both new Inner Belt bridges.

According to the Cleveland Plain Dealer, some $65 million in Lake County construction includes a major repaving project on Interstate 90. In Geauga County, ODOT is spending $29 million on four road resurfacing jobs, one minor road rehabilitation and one culvert project.
In a presentation at the annual Emerging Issues Forum, Clean Fuels Development Coalition Executive Director Douglas Durante called on ethanol supporters to not only defend the federal Renewable Fuel Standard but to move beyond it by capitalizing on the economic, energy supply, environmental and health benefits of ethanol in mid- and high-level blends including E85.

Durante told attendees at the 9th Annual Ethanol Forum that the obsession with RFS volumes has distracted the industry from pursuing other, often higher values that are not bound by the RFS. The key to capturing that value he said is using ethanol in flex fuel vehicles.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) took a close look recently at mid-sized SUVs. What they found may discourage you. The 2014 Chevrolet Equinox and GMC Terrain are the only midsize SUVs out of nine evaluated to earn a "good" rating in the small overlap front crash test.

The 2014 Honda Pilot was "the worst performer in this group," said the IIHS. The 2014 Kia Sorento and Mazda CX-9 also earned a "poor" rating.

The 2014 Toyota Highlander earned an "acceptable" rating.

The 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee, Toyota 4Runner and Ford Explorer earned a "marginal" rating. What happened?
Image From
When the 2015 Hyundai Genesis goes on sale later this spring, it will offer an ambitious new telematics and customer service program with it.

The system, which is the second generation of Hyundai’s Blue Link connectivity, will include smartphone apps for remote start and other functions, Google speech recognition and web searches for navigation points of interest. GM is also going in this direction; switching to 4G to add features and increase speed this summer, representing the next big step for in-car communications and connectivity.

“This is where the technology is going,” said IHS Automotive senior analyst Stephanie Brinley. “It’s not just about streaming Pandora (Internet radio) in your car. It’s becoming how you’ll get information and find out your car needs service. It’s evolving from a shiny toy into a real tool that makes the driver’s life better.”
The Energy Information Administration released its weekly report on the status of petroleum inventories in the United States today.

Here are some highlights:

Crude oil inventories increased by 10.0 million barrels to a total of 394.1 million barrels. At 394.1 million barrels, inventories are 6.5 million barrels above last year (1.7%) and are above the average range for this time of year.

Gasoline inventories decreased by 0.2 million barrels to 210.3 million barrels. At 210.3 million barrels, inventories are down 11.4 million barrels, or 5.2% lower than one year ago. Here's how individual regions and their gasoline inventory fared last week: East Coast (+0.3mb); Midwest (+1.1mb); Gulf Coast (-0.7mb); Rockies (+0.3mb); and West Coast (-0.9mb). It is important to note which regions saw increases/decreases as this information likely drives prices up (in the case of falling inventories), or down (in the case of rising inventories).

DISTILLATE (diesel, heating oil) INVENTORIES:
Distillate inventories decreased by 1.3 million barrels to a total of 111.9 million barrels. At 111.9 million barrels, inventories are now down 3.3 million barrels, or 2.8% lower vs. a year ago.
GasBuddy Heat Map
California motorists are getting hit hard- not only does the state boast the highest average price in the lower 48, but it also has seen the largest jump in prices in the last week, jumping 13c/gal to $4.18/gal, the highest price in over a year.

The latest jump comes as refinery kinks have pinched supply, resulting in supplies that are running 7% lower than they did a year ago, and a huge 10% drop versus last week. Across the state, the pain is worst in Los Angeles and areas of Southern California. LA has seen prices spike 16c/gal while prices have jumped 12c/gal in the Bay area.

While I don't expect these large increases to continue in the week ahead, more increases are likely, but there is relief coming. I expect prices will peak in the next 2-4 weeks in California before they start declining again. By Memorial Day, prices should already start moving lower, and that trend could hold until June, bringing California's average gas price back under $4/gallon.
oil by rail beside I-787, downtown Albany
Billions of gallons of Bakken crude oil is transported by rail through New York State. Because of the Quebec rail disaster that called attention to the heightened volatility of Bakken crude, the safety or rail transportation in NY is now under scrutiny.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has directed state agencies to review their emergency spill response plans and report back by the end of April. Also, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand is now pressing federal agencies like the EPA and the Coast Guard to implement contingency plans in case of spills. Is that enough?
Image From Sen. Scott Renfroe (Greeley, CO)
A proposal to ban red-light and speeding cameras in Colorado is back at the Capitol, and the bill sponsor says he has more support than when he pitched the idea two years ago.
The bill from Greeley Republican Sen. Scott Renfroe would forbid cities and towns from using the automated traffic enforcement devices. He introduced it last week.

The measure is identical to what Renfroe sponsored in 2012. The Colorado Municipal League opposed that bill, saying it should be up to cities and towns to decide the matter on their own.

Renfroe argues the cameras are used to make money, not to improve public safety.
After we highlighted a calm week in last Monday's blog, we said the week ahead would see more increases, and that's exactly what we saw. The U.S. national average rose a little over 3c/gal in the last week to $3.59, over 6c/gal higher than last year.

The bad news is that the lurch forward will likely continue this week with the U.S. average adding on another few cents per gallon, climbing over $3.60/gal as oil prices have moved higher since last week as well.

On the low side, Utah, Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming- all states in the Rockies- are faring the best with average prices in the $3.30's. On the high side, Hawaii, California, and Illinois appear, with Illinois just 5c/gal away from hitting a statewide $4/gal.
Are you one of those folks who has no idea why that thing that looks like an exclamation mark has popped up on your dashboard? If you are, you're not alone.

A study funded by Shrader International – the company that makes tire inflation valve stems and “a global leader in Tire Pressure Monitoring Systems” – found that 42 percent of drivers are unable to identify the low-tire-pressure warning light in the gauge cluster.

What good is it if people don't know what it means?
This is a time of year that myself and other colleagues here at GasBuddy cite refinery maintenance for the reason of rising prices. Many don't always understand how significant this work is. An explosion in 2009 resulted from lack of maintenance at the Silver Eagle Refinery in Utah, when a thinned pipe failed, and resulted in an explosion.

Here's the release from the CSB:

A massive explosion and fire at the Silver Eagle Refinery on November 4, 2009, in Woods Cross, Utah, which damaged homes in a nearby neighborhood, was caused by a rupture in a pipe that had become dangerously thin from corrosion, the U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) reported Thursday. The CSB has released a detailed expert metallurgical report that was commissioned in the course of its ongoing investigation of the incident.

The catastrophic rupture occurred in a ten-inch pipe at the bottom of a reactor in the mobil distillate dewaxing unit. It led to a massive release of hydrogen, which caught fire immediately and exploded, sending a blast wave across the refinery into a subdivision. The blast wave damaged over 100 homes, many with shattered glass. Two of the homes were severely damaged, including one which was displaced off its foundation.
It's time to tell the kids --again-- to wise up. Drivers who use a cell phone when driving are four times more likely to get into a crash serious enough to cause injury. While distractions affect drivers of all ages, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has found that hand-­held cell phone use is highest among 16-­ to 24-­year-­olds.

As the number of crashes caused by distracted drivers continues to rise, the Texas Department of Transportation, among many others, is urging motorists to put away their mobile devices and other distractions, and pay attention to the road. April marks National Distracted Driving Awareness Month and the kickoff of TxDOT’s annual Talk, Text, Crash public education campaign.

“The statistics in Texas are sobering,” said John Barton, TxDOT deputy executive director. “One in five traffic crashes in Texas is caused by a distracted driver, and last year 459 people were killed as a result. Those deaths were preventable."
With the first quarter of the year over, GasBuddy looked at what took place at some 120,000 gas stations across the United States during the first quarter, as well as what is yet to come.

Virginia boasted the largest savings at the pump for January through March versus the same time period in 2013, at 23.7 cents per gallon. Also in the top five are Georgia (23.5c/gal lower), Mississippi (23.5c/gal), South Carolina (23.2c/gal), and Alabama (23.1c/gal). A total of 48 states saw lower gas prices this year than last during the first quarter, with the exceptions being Colorado (8.6c/gal higher), and Wyoming (14c/gal higher).

Montana saw the cheapest average in the first quarter, with gas prices averaging a mere $3.09/gal. Hawaii saw the highest prices, averaging $4.06/gal. Unsurprisingly, it was cities in these states that fared the best and worst, respectively. Billings, MT saw gas average $3.06/gal while Honolulu saw prices average $3.97/gal. California cities rounded out the rest of the cities where prices were highest during the first quarter.
"Consumers working together to save on gas"