When gas prices were at their previous all-time high, way back in 2008, I walked out of the local Toyota dealership in Memphis with a gas sucking 5.7 liter V8 Tundra. They had at least a hundred of them sitting on the back lot. They might not have been paying people to take them away, but it was awfully close. That original Tundra of mine came with four or five thousand dollars off sticker and 0% financing. They were just happy, it seemed, to get it off their books.
I knew then that the price at the pump was going to be painful, but not necessarily less painful than buying one of the small, fuel-efficient econoboxes that were flying off the sales floor. Sure, I was paying for fuel, but a pretty significant percentage of that was offset by the lower cost of the vehicle, “no cost” financing, and the preventative maintenance plan they threw in. As far as I’m concerned, I took my savings all on the front end of that deal rather than spreading it out over the life of the vehicle through lower fuel costs.
The same math doesn’t work in today’s environment. Getting into a new truck with the same trim level I’ve currently got comes with an eyewatering price, well above zero percent financing, and about a one mile per gallon improvement in fuel efficiency that does nothing to offset increasing prices. If I had to be in the market for a replacement vehicle right now, I’d be hard pressed to justify the purchase and operating costs.
I hope I’m not forced into a position of needing to replace a vehicle any time soon. In the meantime, I’ll be keeping an interested eye on the roll-out of more hybrid and all electric truck and SUV platforms. I always said I wouldn’t be interested in alternative fueled vehicles until they were every bit as comfortable for my fat ass as my big Toyota pickup. It feels like we’re nearing an inflection point where these options won’t be limited to “toy” compacts and bland sedans. True to my word, I’m beginning to get interested.