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Reflections: The future wave of fuel efficient cars

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By Thomas W. Ivines

I watched with interest the truck drivers in England who protested the high price of diesel fuel in front of Parliament last week. They were complaining about the eight dollars a gallon they were paying to keep their trucks running. And we thought diesel fuel was high in this country.

European gasoline is nearly as expensive, too, making their gas prices more than double what we are paying.

Interesting that the Euro-dollar is worth more than the American dollar, which means they are paying nearly three times what we are paying for fuel, and we're complaining?

In America we have been paying nothing for fuel compared to other countries. We have been paying so low in fact that when we are finally forced to pay fair prices, we find ourselves slipping into economic chaos. This country has been getting away with dirt cheap fuel prices for way too long.

Just a stone's throw away, in the Bahamas Islands; gasoline has always been nearly double what we pay here in America. It is the reason why we see so many small, fuel efficient cars there. They cannot afford the high prices any more than we can. Small, fuel efficient cars are how they cope.

America has been using fuel in a glut-fashion for way too long. We are a people of privilege with our beloved SUVs and Bubba pickup trucks - but that will soon change. Already General Motors is closing down three of its SUV plants.

What we will see in this country is more of the old style Honda-type vehicles - four-wheel motorcycles with car bodies. They will dominate our highways. Hybrids are simply too expensive for commoners.

Europe and similar countries have also put money into mass transit. In comparison America has neglected to expand its mass transit systems. Now it's too late. We will have to take the one-two punch and pay the fiddler for our driving privileges. We have created our own spoiled problem.

Is there a magic bullet to save us? Not likely. Fuel prices are not going down anytime soon while super fuel efficient cars are still a way off. In the interim we will be changing our attitudes and ways. We will have to become more economically conscious because we have no other choice, just like Europe.