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I don’t know if you remember the hubbub but it’s worth revisiting.  Last year we called attention to the town of Somerset, KY where local officials unanimously approved turning a government-owned fuel storage facility into a government-run gas station.   https://blog.gasbuddy.com/posts/Somerset-KY-says-it-will-sell-its-own-gasoline-to-the-public/1715-576203-2503.aspx

They had good reasons.  In Kentucky last year at this time prices were still climbing just as they did across the rest of the country.  The statewide average was $3.54 in late March; and by April it had climbed to $3.80 and a number of stations were abovc $4 per gal.

Local residents complained that Somerset had become ‘an island of high gas prices’ that were often 20 to 30 cents/gal. higher than neighboring towns. 

The Energy Information Administration released its weekly report today on the status of petroleum inventories in the United States.

Here are some highlights:

CRUDE INVENTORIES:
Crude oil inventories increased by 4.8 million barrels to a total of 471.4 million barrels. At 471.4 million barrels, inventories are 91.4 million barrels above last year (24.0%) and are well above the upper limit of the average range for this time of year.

GASOLINE INVENTORIES:
Gasoline inventories decreased by 4.3 million barrels to 229.1 million barrels. At 229.1 million barrels, inventories are up 13.5 million barrels, or 6.3% higher than one year ago. Here's how individual regions and their gasoline inventory fared last week: East Coast (-1.7mb); Midwest (+0.4mb); Gulf Coast (-2.3mb); Rockies (-0.2mb); and West Coast (-0.5mb). 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 increased by 1.3 million barrels to a total of 127.2 million barrels. At 127.2 million barrels, inventories are up 14.2 million barrels, or 12.6% vs. a year ago.

Autotrader's Car Buyer of the Future study, which was released today, shows that only 17 out of 4002 people prefer the current car buying process, and the rest want significant changes, particularly in the test drive, deal structuring, financing paperwork and service phases. 

"While there is good work going on right now to adapt decades-old sales processes, consumers are telling us that we as an industry are not moving fast enough," said Jared Rowe, president of Autotrader. "By recognizing—and embracing—the need for change, we have a tremendous opportunity to surprise and delight our consumers."

Image From ..freep.com
Across the board, Ford, General Motors, Honda, Nissan and Toyota have aggressively developed and launched a growing number of hybrid and electric cars, but Fiat/Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) is absent from the mix. It doesn't have a single hybrid in its lineup.

That could be changing very soon. 

According to the Detroit Free Press, Sergio Marchionne confirmed in January that a "massive" program to develop a plug-in hybrid minivan is underway, but he did not shared many details. Nor was there talk of the plug-in during a media tour last month of the Windsor Assembly Plant, the company's only minivan plant.

"As we retool the plant for production of the next-generation minivan, we are also preparing the line with the necessary tooling for production of the PHEV (plug-in electric hybrid) version," Jodi Tinson, spokeswoman for FCA US, told the Free Press.

The company's five-year plan includes a plug-in electric version of an unnamed full-size crossover in 2017 which could be a crossover based on the minivan and also made in Windsor.

"The minivan that is coming out of Windsor is the first classic example of a massive introduction of hybrid technology," Marchionne said at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

"It's the beginning of a long process where you will see electrification work its way through in a variety of ways, through the larger vehicles, through the minivans, the pickup trucks eventually, to try and deal with the issue of CO2 and mileage," Marchionne said.

For now, Fiat Chrysler has a chance to be alone in offering a plug-in hybrid minivan. To date, no carmaker has offered a hybrid minivan, with or without a plug, since hybrids first hit the U.S. market for the 2000 model year.

According to hybridcars.com, families have been clamoring for a hybrid minivan for years. "Tens of thousands of consumers have petitioned Toyota, the hybrid leader, to bring the hybrid minivan to the US," according to the site.

Said Edmunds.com senior analyst Jessica Caldwell, "If they can be the first on the market, then they could become the go-to brand."

Electric and hybrid vehicles excel in shorter drives with a lot of stops and starts which is the kind of driving many parents do as they shuttle kids back and forth to school and other activities.

"The improvement in fuel economy is likely to benefit city fuel economy even more so than highway," said Stephanie Brinley, an analyst for IHS Automotive.

Also, the large, flat floor space of a minivan gives engineers a lot of space to store the battery. "For minivan, it's probably a perfect target for (a plug-in hybrid system), not only because of the duty cycle that minivans typically use but also you've got a vehicle that can probably easily package a battery," Mike Manley, CEO of Jeep and head of international operations for Fiat Chrysler Automobiles.

Will they succeed at matching the vehicle to the price point minivan customers want? That's the challenge.  Caldwell said the average transaction price of the Dodge Grand Caravan is about $25,000, or $6,000 lower than the average minivan sale. "They tend to have people who do not pay above and beyond transaction prices."

Let's hope their gamble pays off.

Over the weekend we reported on Atlanta and Detroit among the nation's leading markets for electric vehicle compatibility... add Indiana to the mix!

Ricker’s, a chain of 50 Indiana convenience stores, has announced a new partnership with Nissan to help bring the auto manufacturer's “No Charge to Charge” program to Indianapolis, providing two years of no-cost, public charging to Indianapolis-area Nissan LEAF buyers.

The Indianapolis-based convenience store operator will install fast-charging stations for electric vehicles (EVs) at nine Ricker fueling stations across Central Indiana, the largest city-wide deployment of EV chargers at a chain of fueling stations in the U.S.
It's been a quiet week at the pump for many Americans filling their tanks with the national average declining just 0.2c/gal over the last 168 hours (week).

Yet one thing seems constant in this world aside from death and taxes, and that's gas price fluctuations. Last week, many areas didn't see much fluctuation, but there certainly were some outliers last week. Florida, Ohio and Indiana saw notable jumps at the pump, while Michigan, California and Oregon saw the largest declines.

Overall, the national average paints a quiet picture with prices virtually unchanged. And while three of four number one seeds proceed to the NCAA Final Four- perhaps not a surprise- I'd say there still could be some unexpected surprises at the pump in the weeks ahead.

After more than four years of modern electric-car sales, it's clear that some areas are more favorable for plug-ins than other, according to Green Car Reports. From local incentives for electric vehicle (EV) purchasers to widely available charging infrastructure, or just a cultural climate more attuned to “green car” ownership, some parts of the United States have embraced EVs more than others.

EV network operator ChargePoint has compiled a list of the top 10 U.S. cities for electric cars, based on the number of vehicles registered and available charging stations. (The company only counts stations on its own network, however, and accounts for population differences when comparing the number of car registrations.) While the West Coast still dominates the list, cities like Atlanta, Austin, Denver and Detroit prove that EVs aren’t just for “coasters.”

When it comes to car shopping, it's not uncommon for young adults to turn to their parents for experienced tips and advice. But a new study from car buying platform Edmunds.com suggests that the younger, tech-savvy generation is quickly becoming a more educated and self-sufficient group of buyers due to their prolific use of mobile devices during the car shopping process.

According to the study commissioned by Edmunds in early 2015, 73 percent of Millennials (age 18-34) said that they believe they are savvier car buyers than their parents. More than half of Millennial respondents also said they actively advise friends and family on the car buying process, compared to 37 percent of older Americans. 


Image From ..state.nj.us
Like many states across the U.S. from Oregon to Maine, the New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT) has begun a statewide campaign to repair potholes.

To deal with potholes in the most aggressive and efficient manner, the Department will be allowing crews through the state to close travel lanes where necessary during daytime hours, including during peak travel times for priority repairs.  

In addition to the Department’s usual winter pothole repair method of using cold patch material, NJDOT is using 13 state-of-the-art pothole-filling machines, which make a more durable repair than cold-patch. The pothole-filling machine, which was demonstrated today, is a truck that can heat a mix of asphalt and gravel before injecting the mixture into the pothole. These machines require just one person to operate, with another worker operating a safety truck. 

A study out by the University of Michigan boldly claims that Americans are consuming the least amount of gasoline since tracking began in 1984.

The University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI) study by Michael Sivak said average fuel consumption by U.S. motorists dropped in 2013 to its lowest level since 1984, the first year data was recorded.

The drop is astounding, as consumption now stands some 14 to 19 percent lower than when it peaked in 2004, said Sivak. The numbers shows that in 2013 the amount of fuel consumed per person was about 392 gallons, while overall households consumed an average of just over 1,000 gallons- declines of 17 percent and 19 percent, respectively, since 2004- when numbers peaked. Overall consumption by vehicle dropped to 524 gallons while gallons per driver dropped to 583 gallons.

Ford Motor Company and Petty’s Garage are teaming up to build a new 627-horsepower* Mustang GT – a limited-edition fastback inspired by the popular Petty’s Garage Mustang GT on display at last year’s SEMA show in Las Vegas.

“We received a tremendous amount of positive feedback about our Petty’s Garage Mustang GT displayed at the SEMA show,” said Jeff Whaley, Petty’s Garage COO. “With so much interest, we began to explore the possibility of building a limited run of the Petty’s Garage Mustang GT.”

Two versions of the Petty’s Garage Mustang GT will be built this year; the Stage 1 version will be limited to 100 units, while the even more exclusive Stage 2 version will total 43 units.  Are you ready for this?

It's been proven over and over... Consumers who do their research rarely regret their purchasing decision especially when it comes to the new car they've just bought.

So, what does one make of the recent news on the 2015 Jeep Wrangler Sport?  

One report from Insure.com says it's the least expensive new vehicle to insure in 2015...
And yet, another report by 24/7 Wall St., a financial publication, based on data from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, Consumer Reports, the National Highway Transportation and Safety Administration and JD Power, lists it among the "most dangerous" vehicles in the U.S.  What gives?
The Energy Information Administration released its weekly report today on the status of petroleum inventories in the United States.

Here are some highlights:

CRUDE INVENTORIES:
Crude oil inventories increased by 8.2 million barrels to a total of 466.7 million barrels. At 466.7 million barrels, inventories are 84.2 million barrels above last year (22.0%) and are well above the upper limit of the average range for this time of year.

GASOLINE INVENTORIES:
Gasoline inventories decreased by 2.0 million barrels to 233.4 million barrels. At 233.4 million barrels, inventories are up 16.2 million barrels, or 7.5% higher than one year ago. Here's how individual regions and their gasoline inventory fared last week: East Coast (-1.0mb); Midwest (-2.1mb); Gulf Coast (+1.6mb); Rockies (-0.4mb); and West Coast (-0.1mb). 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 0.1 million barrels to a total of 125.8 million barrels. At 125.8 million barrels, inventories are up 13.4 million barrels, or 12.0% vs. a year ago.

Potholes have returned, and hitting one with your car can do a real number on tires, wheels, steering and suspension, and alignment. To help determine if hitting a pothole has damaged your vehicle, you should watch for these warning signs:

  • Loss of control, swaying when making routine turns, bottoming out on city streets or bouncing excessively on rough roads are indicators that the steering and suspension may have been damaged. The steering and suspension are key safety-related systems. Together, they largely determine your car's ride and handling. Key components are shocks and/or struts, the steering knuckle, ball joints, the steering rack/box, bearings, seals and hub units and tie rod ends.
  • Pulling in one direction, instead of maintaining a straight path, and uneven tire wear, are symptoms of an alignment problem. Proper wheel alignment is important for the lifespan of tires and helps ensure safe handling.
  • Low tire pressure, bulges or blisters on the sidewalls, or dents in the wheel rim will be visible and should be checked out as soon as possible, as tires are the critical connection between your car and the road.

Image From ..finance.yahoo.com
Oil rig counts are gaining attention but for all the wrong reasons.  From West Texas to the Appalachians, U.S. oil fields have been shutting down at a pace not seen in decades. And it’s expected to get a whole lot worse.

According to data released by the oil field services company Baker Hughes, there are 1,267 drilling rigs operating in the United States this week, the fewest since January 2010. That is a 34 percent drop since early December, and with crude prices trading around $50 a barrel there is no sign the decline is coming to an end.

"Consumers working together to save on gas"