Rising petrol prices and continuing shortages of oil in many industrialised countries are having their effects on motorists.
Rising petrol prices and continuing shortages of oil in many industrialised countries are having their effects on motorists. They often have to contend with speed limits and difficulties in buying petrol, either because there is not enough to go around, or because governments have introduced some form of rationing. For many, it seems that the age of the car is under serious threat. Next week, on Tuesday (26 June) the major oil producers organisation, OPEC, meets in Switzerland, with the likelihood that oil prices will be increased yet again....with a rise of up to 20 per cent discussed by the oil suppliers.
SYNOPSIS: For most motorists, the price of petrol is now a talking point. There are some exceptions -- in oil-rich Venezuela petrol costs only 11 US cents a US gallon... against a price, for the present at least, of 2.40 dollars (US) in France and 1.96 (US) in Japan.
For several decades the richer parts of the world faced few difficulties in getting the petrol they wanted. Now, with oil shortages, there is talk of austerity and controls.
In the United States, big engined cars stand in long queues at filling stations. The American attitude of little concern about the price of petrol is changing. Petrol is being rationed, in some states and is increasingly expensive.
Co-operation between governments on ways of coping with fuel shortages is now common-place... like the International Energy Agency. Heads of State are voicing concern over energy supplies...here's President Carter last month.
This is one alternative power source for cars. It's alcohol made from Brazilian sugar cane. A mixture of 20 percent alcohol with 80 percent petrol can run an engine without it needing a major adjustment. Diesel engines can run on a half alcohol, half petrol mixture, with a carburettor change. At the moment though, the alcohol costs twice as much as petrol to produce.
South Africa has invested in plants that extract petrol from coal. This one at Sasolburg produces fuel that is apparently different from petrol, and similarly priced.
In France, five millions pamphlets and stickers have been handed out in an attempt to reduce petrol consumption. On Wednesday (20 June) the French government released plans to reduce oil consumption by 14 per cent over the next six years...a lead it hopes other members of the European Community will adopt as common energy policy.
With oil supplies predicted to run out by about 1990, petrol and diesel engines are threatened... so car companies are looking for other ways to power vehicles... like this electrically driven car.