By on September 18, 2014

Albert Savannah 2Albert in the Avenue of the Oaks – Wormsloe Plantation Historic Site in Savannah, GA

Now that we have gone through New York CityWashington DC through Virginia, North & South Carolina and Charleston, it’s time to travel further South along the East Coast of the United States and the Interstate 95 to Georgia – the birthplace of Martin Luther King Jr and Ray Charles. But first, I’ll give you my first impressions on running a full-size pick-up on diesel in the US.

Full report below the jump…

Chevrolet Silverado 1500 WT. Picture courtesy ChevroletThe Chevrolet Silverado Work Truck is the Hero in Town in Savannah

By now I have had the opportunity to fill up Albert – my Ram 1500 EcoDiesel for the trip – a couple of times and test his range: approximately 660 miles (1060 km), which is more than I expected. I also ended up spending less money than I thought (US$77) to rejuvenate Albert with 20 gallons of diesel so he could continue to faithfully lead me along in this Coast to Coast trip.

A few quirks about running on diesel in the US: as opposed to France for example where up to 80% of new cars sold in the country run on diesel, not all service stations offer diesel, especially when you step away from the main highways -an interesting find when you start to run low and the next 3 stations you pass only have unleaded. On highway exits, I would say on average 50% to 75% of stations have offered diesel so far.

Albert refuelling 1Albert next to one of his Heavy Duty big bruvas

The other big surprise is the price. In Europe, one of the main reasons for choosing a diesel vehicle – on top of the fact that it is more fuel efficient – is its price, significantly lower than unleaded although that price difference has narrowed over the past few years. In the US, diesel is always more expensive, by at least 50 cents a gallon – a very significant margin. Starting off in New York where gas prices are much higher($4.50+ a gallon), I have noticed prices going down steadily as I was driving South to reach about $3.15 a gallon (unleaded) and $3.65 (diesel).

Ford F250 SavannahFord F250 in Savannah GA

Third surprise: for diesel, prices differ depending on your method of payment, with credit a full 6 cents per gallon more expensive than cash. I had never encountered that type of distinction before, and this does not apply to unleaded (for now). Most Americans don’t actually need to walk inside the station’s building if they’re paying with a card, as all pumps are equipped with swipe machines. Having a non-American credit card, I had to pay in advance each time and I had estimated (and paid) my first fill-up to be $100 but the pump put on full stops at ‘only’ $77.

Matt Savannah 2Good old me with Albert

Lastly, an update on Albert’s fuel economy, now standing at an excellent 27.1 mpg after a little bit more than 1,000 miles travelled (1,600 km). This Ram 1500 EcoDiesel 4×4’s advertised fuel economy being 27 mpg highway, we are now right on target, even though my trip hasn’t been all highway.

Ram 1500 Chrysler 200Quick check for size: Albert with a previous gen Chrysler 200

Onto the Savannah vehicle landscape, and although we are only 107 miles away from Charleston, this is a different state and a different landscape altogether. Georgia is another Ford F-Series State but for the first time during this trip, the Chevrolet Silverado is genuinely threatening it for the title of most frequent vehicle spotted in the streets of Savannah, making the Silverado Work Truck (with black plastic grille and bumpers like Albert) the Hero in Town.

Chevrolet Silverado Work Truck SavannahChevrolet Silverado Work Truck in Savannah GA

While in Charleston the Ford F250 was surprisingly more popular that its little brother the F150, in Savannah the ‘logical’ order is back with the F150 seemingly more successful. However even when adding up F150, F250 and F350, we still only come level with the new generation Silverado. But wait there are more surprises in the Savannah vehicle landscape…

Albert closeup SavannahAlbert on the Isle of Hope in Savannah GA

Based on my observations uptown, downtown, in Garden City, Port Wentworth, Vernon River and the Isle of Hope, along with the Silverado/F-Series tandem, other very successful models here include the GMC Sierra, surprisingly frequent, the Toyota Corolla – seemingly the most popular new passenger car in town, the Toyota Tundra back to levels last seen in Northern Virginia, the Ram pick-up, Honda Accord and Toyota Tacoma, also way above its national level here in Savannah. That’s it for the Southern belle, next we are crossing Georgia on our way to Nashville, Tennessee…

Matt Gasnier is based in Sydney, Australia and writes a blog dedicated to tracking car sales around the globe: BestSellingCarsBlog

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25 Comments on “Best Selling Cars Around The Globe: Coast to Coast 2014 – Savannah GA...”

  • avatar

    Weird on the cash credit thing. Are you sure the unleaded wasn’t also higher with credit?

    We have that here in my state. Some stations have different prices but if they do it applies to all fuels not just diesel.

    We also have a law that stations must post the difference in price if a cash discount is available. So all our signs ( big ones you see from the road )switched over to show regular in cash and credit, and diesel in cash and credit unless the price is the same for cash and credit.

    Pumps usually show 8 different prices as well. cash and credit for all grades, and diesel.

    They used to show all grades at the cash price.

  • avatar
    George B

    Matt, I use to help plan where to stop for relatively low prices for fuel. It would also help find stations with diesel. The gas stations with more than 10 pumps usually have diesel while the small neighborhood ones with only a few pumps frequently don’t.

    I love Live Oak trees. You’ll see them in populated areas across the South from the Atlantic until about I-35. Much of the South seems to be covered with one big pine forest that would quickly reclaim the cleared areas without continual human intervention. The tall pines extend west to East Texas and SE Oklahoma, abruptly disappearing as soil conditions become dryer and more alkali.

    • 0 avatar

      I advocate the use of GasBuddy highly. The day I know I’m going to need gas, I pull up my map and check the three or four Shell stations around me. I always end up saving 10 cents/gallon or so.

    • 0 avatar

      The big forest that basically covers the southeast from Virginia to Texas was once the largest contiguous forested area in the world. And it’s mostly oak and other deciduous trees, not pine.

      • 0 avatar
        bumpy ii

        It’s oak and other deciduous if you leave it alone for 100 years or so, but cleared fields start as mostly pine.

        • 0 avatar

          An exhibit along the Natchez trace in Mississippi explains what happens: pine treesa have needles all along the length of their trunk; while decidous trees drop their lower branches and have all their leaves at the top. So they block light to most of the needles on the nearby pine trees, so they do not thrive. The southern pine bark beetle has also really decimated the pine forests in the SE.

          That is one of the things I miss most about living on the Gulf Coast: pine trees, live oaks, and lush woods.

  • avatar

    So based on this, Charleston looks much more lovely than Savannah.

    • 0 avatar

      Their cores are pretty similar, but none of these photos show downtown Savannah, which is lovely.

      • 0 avatar

        Agreed. Savannah is really nice downtown and around the squares. Watch “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil” for a look. But I’d say the outskirts aren’t as nice as Charleston, and it doesn’t have the Battery right on the Atlantic.

        • 0 avatar

          Oh I’ve seen it. An enjoyable movie, but a bit long. You have to block out a whole afternoon to watch it.

          The vehicle placement of Spacey’s character driving an XJS V12 in the early 80s is spot on. And Cusac’s Parisienne or Olds 98, can’t recall.

  • avatar
    Nicholas Weaver

    The reason for the price difference: In Europe, where fuel taxes are high, a long time ago the truckers and farmers got the exemption through that diesel should be taxed considerably less.

    In the US, the fuel taxes are effectively the same. Yet a gallon of diesel has significantly more energy than a gallon of gasoline, and the same amount of crude oil refined to create a gallon of diesel can create well more than a gallon of gasoline.

    This is also one of the reason why diesels get better “mileage” than a gasoline engine: each gallon is more energy. So a 23 MPG diesel uses the same amount of oil as a 20 MPG car, and as a consequence, each gallon of diesel fuel will cost more.

    • 0 avatar

      There are several factors as to why The US has higher diesel prices. One big factor is the fact that every barrel of oil refined in the US creates less diesel than one refined in Europe due to the different processes used. I think we make 10 gallons from a 42 gallon barrel, Europe is more, although that gap is shrinking as the US refiners are changing to meed diesel demand here and in other countries.

      This year we almost had diesel and petrol at an equal price for about two weeks. This had to do with supply, and regulation of petrol, and lowered fuel oil use for heating in the summer.

      Diesel is also taxed differently in the states. Here is a chart for how much each state is taxed (the most recent one):

      Just remember, if you come up to Indiana, get your diesel before you get here.

  • avatar

    I suspect that there is no incentive whatever to market diesel fuel on price, in that by far the largest market for that fuel is over-the-road trucks, not to mention railroads.

  • avatar

    Oil refiners constraining capacity is a factor too.

  • avatar
    elderly car nut

    As to the dual pricing, here in Florida it’s been that way for years. The cheaper price is posted on the big signs with a smaller one attached that mentions that unless you use that station brand credit card, or pay cash the price is 5 cents higher. As to the Diesel, the refiners here have to refine it to a much lower sulfur content than Europe. Before that requirement it was about the same as high test or a little lower.

  • avatar

    I spend half my time working in Savannah. I wonder if you noticed the plethora of Scion XB’s, Nissan Cubes and Kia Souls there. SCAD (an Art College which dominates downtown) is the most expensive college in the USA (USA today) and has the highest Asian % of students. Who love these.

  • avatar

    The difference in pricing for cash and credit goes back at least to the second (US) gas crisis. Most gas companies at the time had their own credit card and the companies were pretty generous in handing them out. However the gas companies charged the retailer a percentage of the sale for processing. To hold the line on prices many stations started offering cash discounts. Since they were using the old mechanical pumps they posted a cheat sheet of how much off the total you got for paying cash based on the number of gallons displayed. So if you wanted to put say $10 in you would pump until you got around $10 and look at how many gallons you had pumped so far looked at the chart see how much extra to pump so you had an even $10.

    Arco then “blew up their credit cards” which cemented the two different prices. The standard became 5 cents/gallon for many years. Eventually one by one in my area the different prices for cash and credit pretty much went away. However Arco, now owned by BP, caused a shift in the market again by eliminating the fee for debit cards which they had for years and started accepting credit cards again but at 10 cents more per gallon at least on regular.

    The other interesting shift has been that many stations don’t have the 10 cents per grade difference that had been the standard for years. I’ve noticed a few stations where the pricing is anything but uniform with sometimes super being 25 cents more than regular for cash but only 20 cents more for credit and sometimes the opposite.

    I’ve also seen differences between cash discount/credit premium for unleaded, diesel and E85 at the same station. I was traveling through central CA a few years ago I stopped at a station near the freeway in a smaller town. They charged an extra 20 cents per gallon for using credit but over at the E85 and diesels pump it was the same price cash or credit. I was happy to be driving a FFV at the time. I’m guessing they didn’t do it for the Diesel and E85 is because the local farmers use the diesel while the city county fleet buys the E85.

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