By Jim Taylor, Editor MACS ACtion Magazine
A recent news release from the American Petroleum Institute (API), the trade group representing almost the entire North American oil industry, notes that demand for gasoline dropped by 1.3 percent in August and reached to a 10-year low for that month. Year-to-date, overall gasoline demand is two percent below last year’s level.
On the other hand, they say, monthly demand for petroleum distillate products rose by nearly 11 percent. Distillate products are used in a wide spread of products including jet fuel, pharmaceuticals, packaging materials, asphalt, plastics manufacture and any number of cleaners and solvents.
The numbers say we’re using more oil overall but less gasoline in particular. They don’t say why. One easy answer grasped at by many is that “we’re driving less due to the economy.” That may be true, and some industry statistics lend weak support to that theory, but still other surveys show little or no decrease in miles driven.
Could there be other reasons? Perhaps, and it’s always good to ask. Are people driving just as much but in more fuel efficient vehicles? Have personal and business fleets been pruned by selling a vehicle or two? Were the guzzlers simply parked in favor of an everyday sedan? Are we simply driving differently?
Have the technological changes of, say, the last ten years begun to have their intended effects as they spread through the national fleet? Are we now beginning to see the overall benefits of improved tires, better lubricants, and aerodynamic vehicle design? Could we already be seeing results from the tire pressure management systems (TPMS) that nanny a driver into resetting pressures when the light comes on?
As well, we continue to read that folks are keeping their cars longer instead of replacing them. With that decision, owners may be catching up even the most modest maintenance to keep the car running. While improved parts and good service usually make very small immediate differences in any one vehicle, if they multiply over the millions of vehicles in use it can have a large effect.
API reports the numbers; it’s up to us to figure out what they’re telling us.
When having your mobile A/C system professionally serviced, insist on proper repair procedures and quality replacement parts. Insist on recovery and recycling so that refrigerant can be reused and not released into the atmosphere.
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The 32nd annual Mobile Air Conditioning Society (MACS) Worldwide Convention and Trade Show will take place January 18-20, 2012 at the Rio All Suite Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, NV.