Sunday, June 15, 2008

Heading South of the Border for $2.54 Gas + Time

SAN DIEGO - If there's pain at the pump in the U.S., Mexico may just have a remedy. A gallon of regular unleaded gasoline in San Diego retails for an average price of $4.61 a gallon. A few miles south, in Tijuana, it's about $2.54 — even less if you pay in pesos.

More and more people appear to be taking advantage of the lower price. The lower prices mean a U.S. motorist could save almost $54 filling up a two-year-old Ford F150 pickup with a 26-gallon fuel tank in Mexico. The differential in diesel is even greater, selling at $5.04 a gallon in San Diego County and $2.20 in Tijuana.

Still, international gas-buying trips don't make sense for everyone. The wait getting back into the U.S. at the border in Tijuana frequently takes longer than two hours and cars can burn about a gallon of gas for each hour they idle.

7 Comments:

At 6/15/2008 11:51 PM, Blogger randian said...

Cross-state arbitrage is common, why not cross-country arbitrage?

 
At 6/16/2008 4:30 AM, Anonymous richard said...

There is a strange perception difference here.

You (or the underlying msnbc article) take as example a ford pickup with a 26 gallon tank.

My car has a 7.5 gallon tank.

If I needed to fill a 26 gallon tank every week it would cost me about 250 US$ per week, or 12.000 US$ per year.

It seems to me that there is a very large potential for the US to save on gas. And you don't need new magic kick-ass technology.

 
At 6/16/2008 6:12 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Right. That's why some of us work from a home office and do our banking online saving significant time as well as money.

My Honda Accord gets a fill up once every few weeks.

 
At 6/16/2008 7:17 AM, Blogger Shawn said...

arbit--crap, randian beat me to it.

I smell tanker truck rental.

 
At 6/16/2008 8:21 AM, Blogger randian said...

subscribing - because $#U%^ blogger won't let you subscribe without posting

 
At 6/16/2008 8:34 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

richard, my lawnmower has a bigger tank than your car, and my truck has a 24-gallon tank. I'll be damned if I am going to risk my safety in a glorifed skateboard that is covered by a crackerbox. I get 16 mpg, which equals about a quarter of a dollar for each mile that I drive. I can live with that, but I have reduced my driving.

 
At 6/17/2008 3:07 AM, Blogger OBloodyHell said...

> > You (or the underlying msnbc article) take as example a ford pickup with a 26 gallon tank. My car has a 7.5 gallon tank.

> richard, my lawnmower has a bigger tank than your car, and my truck has a 24-gallon tank. I'll be damned if I am going to risk my safety in a glorifed skateboard that is covered by a crackerbox.

========

Richard also drives 30mph (thus saving on fuel), so his chances of ever having a serious accident only come from people whipping by him at 55 mph honking their horn and shouting "Assshooooole!!!!", like Kevin Kline in A Fish Called Wanda (F***in' A, that movie is *20* years old!).
:oP

Richard, gas tanks are generally sized for range, so that a vehicle will get between 250 and 400 miles on a tank (300ish is fairly typical) when the car is functioning correctly and driven at standard speeds (i.e., no Autobahn!).

This, BTW, is actually derived by a couple things -- utility (people like a certain minimum range when driving), fit (the space available for the tank, esp. with safety requiremnts, is a narrowed range) and weight (your mileage will be lower if you're hauling 60 gallons around, so there is a cost/benefit curve which applies if you have a huge tank)

Trucks usually assume a bit more range is needed (assuming the vehicle is going to be driven in more distant places, offroad, etc.) so you get tanks like Anon's with a range ca. 400+ (and a large tank may not be "standard equipment" on that vehicle, I have no idea -- perhaps the standard tank on that truck is 18 gal).

Typical loading is also a concern -- if a truck is hauling a heavy load, the mpg is going to go down and that 400 mi range may drop to 300 under those conditions.

In short -- your assumption that your 4-wheeled sewing machine is the right choice for everyone is weak. As Anon says, he prefers more safety in a vehicle, and others prefer something that actually has acceleration, which I'll pretty much guarantee you'd appreciate if you were trying to pass a turnip truck going up a steep hill with a semi barreling up behind you. I, personally, happen to *like* having acceleration at 60mph for exactly that sort of reason.

That's not to say your decision is wrong for you -- just that it's for you, not for others. I'll tolerate the expense, thanks, until a better energy storage mechanism than gas comes along.

> That's why some of us work from a home office and do our banking online saving significant time as well as money.

If your employer will let you do that, and your actual job requirements allow for it, it's a great idea. Frank, over at VariFrank, makes the case that what higher gas prices are going to do (combined with more and more IP&S jobs), is to vastly increase the amount of telecommuting done in the USA, and I have to say I tend to agree.

> I smell tanker truck rental.

Be careful there:

a) There are certainly laws about the interstate transport of fuels, which essentially are an explosive. I'd suspect that you need permits to actually bring in across national boundaries, as well.
b) While I've never heard of significant "grey market" fuel, I'd bet that the States will notice if people start transporting fuel without paying taxes. I'd presume that there are also Fed taxes you have to comply with, too.
c) I'm pretty sure there are laws about "dispensing" fuel without a license, too, limiting its usage to yourself and others in your "co-op".

-- Not to suggest you can't do it, just noting that you probably need to carefully check what all applicable laws there are in such a case. The system is ALWAYS designed to prevent you from cutting out the middle-man. And you may find that complying with all the laws eats up a huge chunk of your potential savings.

 

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