With the last several months delivering record-breaking fuel prices, as society endures what has undoubtedly been the largest spike in energy cost and inflation since the 1970s, everyone has been hoping to catch a break this summer. Some have even gotten theirs. While things are still looking exceptionally bleak in the long term, the United States appears to be enjoying a modest reprieve.
News surfaced yesterday that Renault has decided to sell its Russia operations and stake in Lada for the grand sum of 1 rouble (or double that amount, depending on the source). For those playing at home, a single unit of Russian currency is presently worth 1.5 cents in America as of this writing.
Following that announcement, reporters at The Moscow Times said the country quickly nationalized a major factory belonging to Renault, marking one of (if not the) first major transfer of private assets into state control since the invasion of Ukraine.
What does Russia plan to do with the facility? Kickstart production of the Moskvitch, of course.
Despite the United States confronting some of the highest energy prices in its history, the Biden administration has canceled oil and gas lease sales in the Gulf of Mexico and Alaska’s Cook Inlet.
According to the American Automobile Association (AAA), national fuel prices are averaging out to a whopping $4.43 per gallon of regular gasoline. Diesel is much higher at $5.56 and is speculated to endure mass shortages in the coming months as reports from the Northeast have indicated there are already seeing record-low inventories. Over the past twelve months, fuel prices have risen by nearly $1.50 per gallon and most market analysts expect rates to continue moving upwards through the summer. Though they’re not all in agreement as to who should be blamed for our current predicament.
Practically every automaker on the planet has begun signaling a desire to change with the times by collectively revising their business strategies. The new hotness involves lower volumes, higher margins, and electric vehicles with the ability to push connected services allowing manufacturers to charge you piecemeal for just about every feature imaginable.
While Volkswagen Group has been at the forefront of those trends since the 2015 Dieselgate scandal helped force its hand, it often suggested that the shift to EVs would be a boon to low-income families. It was hardly the only automaker to make such promises, nor has it been the first to break them after deciding that perhaps there’s more money to be made with premium vehicles. VW has decided that its ideal strategy involves culling internal combustion vehicles by 60 percent over the next eight years and focusing on higher-margin products yielding superior profitability.
When gas prices spike, we argue.
It’s the current president’s fault. It’s the previous president’s fault. It’s about the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and on and on.
Now Yahoo! Finance columnist Rick Newman suggests that politics and war aren’t the problems, but simple economics are.
Volkswagen Group will be moving some of its European production out of the continent and into facilities located in China and the United States, citing the war in Ukraine as the largest contributing factor. Though if you’ve been following the company, it had already signaled a desire to raise its capacity in China ever since the region shifted into becoming its largest market.
In fact, Chief Executive Herbert Diess said during Tuesday’s press call that China will be taking precedence as the automaker reorganizes its manufacturing.
Fuel prices have, like most other things, become totally ridiculous. In the United States, the average rate for a gallon of gasoline has eclipsed $4.00 for the first time in a decade. Though what’s probably the most alarming is how quickly it happened. Plenty of Americans could still find fuel for under $2.00 a gallon in April of 2020, meaning we’ve seen prices effectively double within two years in the United States. Meanwhile, European nations more accustomed to lofty fuel bills have been sounding the warning bells (especially in regard to diesel) for months.
Despite the issue existing long before Russia invaded Ukraine, the war has become the de facto explanation among politicians for why you had to swap to less-fancy dog food and off-brand soda to keep the truck gassed up. This is also influencing the government’s response to how to handle the present fuel crisis, which looks as if it’ll be getting worse before it gets better. But let’s take a look at how we got here before we dive into what’s being done (or not done) about it.
Infiniti’s wanderlust has taken the QX80 to other faraway locations, but none quite as exotic as Privolzhskoe, Tver Oblast, Russia, to go glamping in Villi Ulei’s geodesic domes.
In what’s termed a comfort zone for climatic conditions in Russia, temperatures range from 9-degrees Fahrenheit in the winter, to a high of 66-degrees in the summer. As you can see, snowfall is abundant in the region, from a low of about 16 inches, to almost 32 inches, and it spans anywhere from four to five months of the year. Home to 1.35 million Russians, 30% of whom are Russian Orthodox, it might seem like a great place to go if it were summer at the Boishoe Zavidovo, when Nashestvie, the largest Russian rock festival, is being held.
That shiny new Lada you’ve always wanted might one day come with an unexpected bit of equipment: an ignition interlock set free by non-boozy breath.
That’s what Russia’s industry ministry would like to see installed in cars before they even leave the factory, but reaching this goal — like trying to put on a pair of tight-fitting shoes after polishing off a 26er of Stolichnaya — will likely prove a challenge.
While OPEC member states and other oil-producing counties have signed a pact to stem the flow of crude by 10 million barrels a day and hopefully rein in the current price-crashing glut, the situation remains bleak for oil producers around the world. On Monday, May futures for West Texas Intermediate (WTI) dropped to the floor, with prices hitting $5 per barrel.
That number shifted into the negative* as the above paragraph was being written. We’re guessing that’s because the end of the May contract forces physical receipts at a time when storage capacities are basically nonexistent. June WTI prices are still riding just below $23 per barrel.
Meanwhile, Brent Crude is hovering around $26 bbl as the OPEC Basket hangs onto $17.73 bbl on a 4-day delay. The assumption is that both will come down, though perhaps not as dramatically as WTI did.
The world’s largest oil producers are meeting this week for negotiations aimed at saving the energy sector a lot of hardship further down the road. That includes the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), which has been at odds with itself more than usual of late. Hampered by dwindling demand, member countries are suffering and aren’t sure what’s to be done about last month’s price plunge and surplus of crude.
During the cartel’s last meeting, Russia declined to collaborate with OPEC’s planned production cuts. This sent Saudi Arabia into a furious tizzy; it quickly attempted to flood the market with bargain oil in an attempt to drive out lesser players. Like everything else, this was further complicated by the global pandemic. The coronavirus has suppressed oil use to a point where suppliers are growing concerned about storage capacity running out.
With the coronavirus keeping people indoors and shale drilling keeping U.S. oil prices relatively stable, you’ve probably noticed gasoline bills being quite reasonable of late. Well, don’t get used to the sums you’re paying now, as analysts project fuel prices will drop even lower as 2020 progresses. While you might think this is due to national quarantines and lessened demand, you’d only be half right.
Last week, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) failed to strike a deal that would have enacted production cuts to better stabilize the market. Instead of slashing output, Saudi Arabia started slashing prices as it sought ways to ramp up production. Russia immediately responded by promising to increase its own output, leading to what looks like an all-out price war.