More People Drive as Gas Prices Stay Low

Meanwhile, Ford still sees a bright future for electric vehicles.

June 03, 2020

PHILADELPHIA—The roads are becoming a little more crowded these days, as drivers gas up and head out, taking advantage of low pump prices and states easing lockdown restrictions, the Wall Street Journal reports.

The increase in driving comes as consumers are spending more, which some see as a hopeful sign of a recovering economy. With more motorists on the road, gas prices have crept up for the past five weeks, although still well under where prices had been at the beginning of 2020.

Consumers are ready to hit the road again and resume their pre-pandemic routines, albeit at a slower pace, a survey released last week by NACS found.

Gas demand has slowly sped up, with driving direction requests on map apps bouncing back, too. “We’re already seeing some improvement in demand, and this is going to continue as people return to more normal activities,” said Valero CEO Joe Gorder.

However, U.S. refinery activity still hovers under normal levels, and numerous analysts predict a less-than-smooth recovery until more people begin traveling longer distances. Oil prices have made a comeback as well.

Meanwhile, Ford doesn’t believe low gas prices will kill the electric car sector, Yahoo Autoblog reports. Mark Kaufman, Ford’s global director of electrification, said the automaker estimates that up to a third of all vehicles sold around the world in 2030 will be electric.

“A lot of the different CO2 demands from around the world are going to drive us that way. Ford’s perspective is that, in order to meet demand, you’ve got to really come up with a compelling reason for the customers to buy,” Kaufman said.

The company plans on making attractive electric cars that will appeal to buyers, no matter the cost of gas. “We think people are buying them because they’re great products first,” he said. Electric vehicles are still more expensive than comparable gas models, though government incentives help to close the gap more.

What’s unknown is whether the economy will push buyers into spending less on a new car or keep their current ride longer. However, Ford is banking that there will be enough demand for a mass-produced electric pickup.

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